Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study unearths cliques in the food web

20.11.2003


A study published this week in the journal Nature has revealed that even the food chain has cliques



Research by a team at Michigan State University, University of Maryland and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory examined what ecologists have previously theorized: that plants and animals in a complex network of interconnecting food chains - called a food web -- interact more frequently with each other than with species outside of their group.

It’s a dynamic that’s crucial to understanding the food web - the interaction of multiple food chains. This understanding will help natural resource managers make better management decisions that affect food webs.


"This fascinating breakthrough will help us better understand food system dynamics," said William Taylor, chair of MSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and a member of the research team. "Having a structured way to look at complex food webs could give natural resource professionals a clearer vision of how to manage ecosystems for sustainability."

This research contributes to a more sophisticated understanding of food web dynamics by illustrating how species interact and, thus, how they impact each other.

Strong interactions exist among species within their group - also called compartments -- and weaker interactions exist between individual compartments.

The research applies principles for describing social systems to food webs-an exciting new way to view food web structures and to identify compartments in food-webs. The scientists employed a recently developed social network method that identifies cliques.

The research also applies principles for describing social systems to food webs -- an exciting new way to view food web structures and to identify compartments in food webs. The scientists employed a recently developed social network method.

"This appears also to be the case for food web compartments in ecology, and this method identifies compartments in which interactions are concentrated." said Ken Frank, associate professor of fisheries and wildlife and education said. "This study highlights the importance and necessity of interdisciplinary science and problem solving."

"With humans, we often find evidence of cliques. This appears also to be the case for food web compartments in ecology, and this method identifies compartments in which interactions are concentrated," said research team member Ken Frank, an MSU associate professor jointly appointed in counseling, educational psychology and special education and fisheries and wildlife. "This study highlights the importance and necessity of interdisciplinary science and problem solving."

Predators are likely to have more than one prey and prey are likely to have more than one predator, thereby creating a web of interactions, not a chain. A common approach of understanding how species interact in food webs is to categorize them into hierarchical levels, where groups of species with similar food resources and predators are associated with each other.

The one-level concept alone, however, provides an incomplete understanding of food webs, because it only provides one view of the picture; it looks at which species are competitors, but not at the other associations that species make in the food web.

For example, in economics, people’s purchasing decisions are not solely influenced by the decisions made by their neighbors, who are likely in the same economic bracket. Rather, people also are influenced by their friends, who may be in another economic bracket, but in a same clique or compartment.

"The compartment method of measuring species interactions in an ecosystem has its benefits," said Ann Krause, an MSU doctoral student, and the paper’s first author. "This method is more systematic and rigorous, as it assigns species to certain compartments based on observed research-not based on a researcher’s hypothesis-and tests the results for statistical significance. Moreover, if compartments can be found to enhance stability in nature like they were found to do in theoretical research, we now have another tool with which to better understand stability in ecosystems.

"Stability is important for maintaining ecosystem health, and compartments may strengthen delicate food webs."

"This study will provide a mechanism for others to study and measure the stability of food webs," added Doran Mason of the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, a member of the research team. "Understanding food web stability significantly enhances our understanding of ecosystems which, of course, helps biologists and managers in their efforts to protect and improve the system.

"With future applications based on this research, we may find that managers should also focus on maintaining compartments in food webs, which are whole groups of species, not just maintaining the population of a single species, to maintain ecosystem health and integrity."


###
This research was funded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Science Foundation.

William Taylor | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.msu.edu/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stretchable biofuel cells extract energy from sweat to power wearable devices

22.08.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technique to treating mitral valve diseases: First patient data

22.08.2017 | Medical Engineering

IVAM Marketing Prize recognizes convincing technology marketing for the tenth time

22.08.2017 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>