Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 541217
Title Foundation species enhance food web complexity through non-trophic facilitation
Author(s) Borst, Annieke C.W.; Verberk, Wilco C.E.P.; Angelini, Christine; Schotanus, Jildou; Wolters, Jan Willem; Christianen, Marjolijn J.A.; Zee, Els M. van der; Derksen-Hooijberg, Marlous; Heide, Tjisse van der
Source PLoS One 13 (2018)8. - ISSN 1932-6203
DOI https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0199152
Department(s) Water and Food
Alterra - Climate change and adaptive land and water management
WIMEK
Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management
IMARES Onderzoeksformatie
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2018
Abstract

Food webs are an integral part of every ecosystem on the planet, yet understanding the mechanisms shaping these complex networks remains a major challenge. Recently, several studies suggested that non-trophic species interactions such as habitat modification and mutualisms can be important determinants of food web structure. However, it remains unclear whether these findings generalize across ecosystems, and whether non-trophic interactions affect food webs randomly, or affect specific trophic levels or functional groups. Here, we combine analyses of 58 food webs from seven terrestrial, freshwater and coastal systems to test (1) the general hypothesis that non-trophic facilitation by habitat-forming foundation species enhances food web complexity, and (2) whether these enhancements have either random or targeted effects on particular trophic levels, functional groups, and linkages throughout the food web. Our empirical results demonstrate that foundation species consistently enhance food web complexity in all seven ecosystems. Further analyses reveal that 15 out of 19 food web properties can be well-approximated by assuming that foundation species randomly facilitate species throughout the trophic network. However, basal species are less strongly, and carnivores are more strongly facilitated in foundation species’ food webs than predicted based on random facilitation, resulting in a higher mean trophic level and a longer average chain length. Overall, we conclude that foundation species strongly enhance food web complexity through non-trophic facilitation of species across the entire trophic network. We therefore suggest that the structure and stability of food webs often depends critically on non-trophic facilitation by foundation species.

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