Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Mar 1;108(9):3648-52. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1014353108. Epub 2011 Feb 9.

Compartmentalization increases food-web persistence.

Author information

1
Integrative Ecology Group, Estación Biológica de Doñana, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 41092 Seville, Spain. stouffer@ebd.csic.es

Abstract

It has recently been noted that empirical food webs are significantly compartmentalized; that is, subsets of species exist that interact more frequently among themselves than with other species in the community. Although the dynamic implications of compartmentalization have been debated for at least four decades, a general answer has remained elusive. Here, we unambiguously demonstrate that compartmentalization acts to increase the persistence of multitrophic food webs. We then identify the mechanisms behind this result. Compartments in food webs act directly to buffer the propagation of extinctions throughout the community and augment the long-term persistence of its constituent species. This contribution to persistence is greater the more complex the food web, which helps to reconcile the simultaneous complexity and stability of natural communities.

PMID:
21307311
PMCID:
PMC3048152
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1014353108
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center