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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1984 Jul;81(13):4105-9.

Trophic links of community food webs.


This report describes and explains regularities in the numbers and kinds of trophic links in community food webs. To a first approximation, the mean number of trophic links in a community food web is proportional to the total number of trophic species. The mean number of trophic links between any two categories of trophic species (basal, intermediate, and top) is proportional to the geometric mean number of species in the categories joined. These linear relationships, and scale-invariance in the proportions of basal, intermediate, and top species, make it possible to predict with remarkable precision the proportions of each kind of trophic link among all community food webs. The differences between food webs in constant and in fluctuating environments reflect apparently greater constraints on the trophic organization of food webs in fluctuating environments.

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