Food Web Structure in Temporally-Forced Ecosystems
Trends in Ecology and Evolution
Temporal variation characterizes many of Earth's ecosystems. Despite this, little is known about how food webs respond to regular variation in time, such as occurs broadly with season. We argue that season, and likely any periodicity, structures food webs along a temporal axis in an analogous way to that previously recognized in space; predators shift their diet as different resource compartments and trophic levels become available through time. These characteristics are likely (i) central to ecosystem function and stability based on theory, and (ii) widespread across ecosystem types based on empirical observations. The temporal food web perspective outlined here could provide new insight into the ecosystem-level consequences of altered abiotic and biotic processes that might accompany globally changing environments.
McMeans, Bailey C.; McCann, Kevin S.; Humphries, Murray; Rooney, Neil; and Fisk, Aaron T.. (2015). Food Web Structure in Temporally-Forced Ecosystems. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 30 (11), 662-672.