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Phys Rev Lett. 2002 Jun 3;88(22):228102. Epub 2002 May 16.

Robust patterns in food web structure.

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Center for Polymer Studies and Department of Physics, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


We analyze the properties of seven community food webs from a variety of environments, including freshwater, marine-freshwater interfaces, and terrestrial environments. We uncover quantitative unifying patterns that describe the properties of the diverse trophic webs considered and suggest that statistical physics concepts such as scaling and universality may be useful in the description of ecosystems. Specifically, we find that several quantities characterizing these diverse food webs obey functional forms that are universal across the different environments considered. The empirical results are in remarkable agreement with the analytical solution of a recently proposed model for food webs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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