NCEAS Project 10022

Comparing trophic structure across ecosystems

  • Jonathan B. Shurin
  • Daniel S. Gruner
  • Helmut Hillebrand

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Working Group3rd—7th October 2005Participant List  
Working Group3rd—7th April 2006Participant List  
Working Group31st October—6th November 2006Participant List  

Abstract
Trophic structure, the partitioning of biomass among organisms at different positions in a food web, varies both within and among ecosystems. However, the causes of this variation are poorly understood. Elton's "pyramid of numbers", where primary producers dominate and consumer densities decrease as trophic levels become more remote from the base of production, applies well to most terrestrial systems. However, many aquatic ecosystems apparently violate Elton's rule with inverted biomass pyramids, or ratios of heterotroph-to-autotroph biomass (H:A) greater than one. In this proposal, we describe synthetic work aimed at understanding differences in trophic structure and the relative strength of bottom-up and top-down inputs between diverse freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems. We will test candidate hypotheses for this variation based on factors known to distinguish food webs in the two habitats, such as nutrient limitation and turnover rates, productivity (quantity) and nutrient stoichiometry (quality). Meta-analysis of local-scale herbivore manipulation experiments will be integrated with theoretical development of food web models, and with larger-scale temporal and spatial patterns from resource gradients. This work will move us closer to a comprehensive trophic-dynamic theory, unified across taxa and ecosystem types. It will also increase our mechanistic understanding of how human impacts, such as eutrophication or predator extirpation, propagate or attenuate in ecosystems through trophic interactions.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Book Chapter Borer, Elizabeth T.; Gruner, Daniel S. 2009. Top-down and bottom-up regulation of communities . Edited by Levin, S.A.; Carpenter, S.R.; Godfray, H.C.J.; Kinzig,A.P.; Loureau, M.; Losos, J.B.; Walker, B.; Wilcove, D.S.. Princeton Guide to Ecology. Princeton University Press. Princeton, NJ. Pages 296-304.
Presentations Borer, Elizabeth T. 2009. Why is the world green? Examining the independent and interactive roles of nutrients and consumers. Umea University, Ocotber 2009.
Journal Article Borer, Elizabeth T.; Bracken, Matthew E.; Seabloom, Eric; Smith, Jennifer E.; Cebrian, Just; Cleland, Elsa E.; Elser, James J.; Fagan, William F.; Gruner, Daniel S.; Harpole, W. Stanley; Hillebrand, Helmut; Kerkhoff, Andrew J.; Ngai, Jacqueline T. 2013. Global biogeography of autotroph chemistry: Is insolation a driving force?. Oikos. Vol: 122. Pages 1121-1130. (Online version)
Journal Article Cardinale, Bradley J.; Hillebrand, Helmut; Harpole, W. Stanley; Gross, Kevin; Ptacnik, Robert. 2009. Separating the influence of resource 'availability' from resource 'imbalance' on productivity-diversity relationships. Ecology Letters. Vol: 12. Pages 475-487.
Presentations Cebrian, Just. 2007. Producer control of aquatic-terrestrial contrasts in trophic structure. Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, 2007. San Jose, CA.
Data Set Cebrian, Just. 2009. Producer nutritional quality controls ecosystem trophic structure. (Online version)
Journal Article Cebrian, Just; Shurin, Jonathan B.; Borer, Elizabeth T.; Cardinale, Bradley J.; Ngai, Jacqueline T.; Smith, Melinda D.; Fagan, William F. 2009. Producer nutritional quality controls ecosystem trophic structure. PLoS ONE. Vol: 4(3). Pages e4929.
Journal Article Cleland, Elsa E.; Harpole, W. Stanley. 2010. Nitrogen enrichment and plant communities. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Vol: 1195. Pages 46-61. (Online version)
Presentations Cottingham, Kathryn L.; Wolkovich, Elizabeth M.; Sandin, Stuart A.; de Mazancourt, Claire. 2009. Carbon exudation as a cross-ecosystem phenomenon: Magnitudes, causes and consequences. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting. Albuquerque, NM.
Data Set Elser, James J.; Gruner, Daniel S.; Bracken, Matthew E.; Cleland, Elsa E.; Harpole, W. Stanley; Hillebrand, Helmut; Ngai, Jacqueline T.; Seabloom, Eric; Shurin, Jonathan B.; Smith, Jennifer E. 2007. Global analysis of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation. (Abstract) (Online version)
Journal Article Elser, James J.; Bracken, Matthew E.; Cleland, Elsa E.; Gruner, Daniel S.; Harpole, W. Stanley; Hillebrand, Helmut; Ngai, Jacqueline T.; Seabloom, Eric; Shurin, Jonathan B.; Smith, Jennifer E. 2007. Global analysis of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation of primary producers in freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Ecology Letters. Vol: 10(12). Pages 1135-1142.
Presentations Elser, James J. 2009. Global patterns of nutrient limitation and effects of anthropogenic N deposition. Symposium on effect of global change on carbon sequestration and food web structure across ecosystems, 30 June 2009. University of Oldenburg. Germany.
Journal Article Everard, Katherine; Seabloom, Eric; Harpole, W. Stanley; de Mazancourt, Claire. 2010. Plant water use affects competition for nitrogen: Why drought favors invasive species in California. American Naturalist. Vol: 175(1). Pages 85-97. (Online version)
Data Set Gruner, Daniel S.; Seabloom, Eric; Smith, Jennifer E.; Ngai, Jacqueline T.; Bracken, Matthew E.; Harpole, W. Stanley; Cleland, Elsa E.; Elser, James J.; Hillebrand, Helmut; Borer, Elizabeth T. 2006. Experimental manipulations of nutrients and trophic structure across ecosystems. (Online version)
Journal Article Gruner, Daniel S.; Smith, Jennifer E.; Seabloom, Eric; Sandlin, Stuart; Ngai, Jacqueline T.; Hillebrand, Helmut; Harpole, W. Stanley; Elser, James J.; Cleland, Elsa E.; Bracken, Matthew E.; Borer, Elizabeth T.; Bolker, Benjamin. 2008. A cross-system synthesis of consumer and nutrient resource control on producer biomass . Ecology Letters. Vol: 11. Pages 740-755.
Data Set Gruner, Daniel S.; Smith, Jennifer E.; Seabloom, Eric; Sandin, Stuart A.; Ngai, Jacqueline T.; Hillebrand, Helmut; Harpole, W. Stanley; Elser, James J.; Cleland, Elsa E.; Bracken, Matthew E.; Borer, Elizabeth T.; Bolker, Benjamin. 2008. Cross-system synthesis of consumer and nutrient resource control on producer biomass. (Online version)
Presentations Gruner, Daniel S. 2009. Top-down and bottom-up control of primary production across ecosystems. Symposium on effect of global change on carbon sequestration and food web structure across ecosystems, 30 June 2009. University of Oldenburg. Germany.
Data Set Gruner, Daniel S.; Smith, Jennifer E.; Seabloom, Eric; Sandin, Stuart A.; Ngai, Jacqueline T.; Hillebrand, Helmut; Harpole, W. Stanley; Elser, James J.; Cleland, Elsa E.; Bracken, Matthew E.; Borer, Elizabeth T.; Bolker, Benjamin. Cross-system synthesis of consumer and nutrient resource control on producer biomass. (Online version)
Journal Article Harpole, W. Stanley; Tilman, David. 2007. Grassland species loss resulting from reduced niche dimension. Nature. Vol: 446(7137). Pages 791-793. (Online version)
Presentations Harpole, W. Stanley. 2009. Multiple resource limitation across ecosystems. Symposium on effect of global change on carbon sequestration and food web structure across ecosystems, 30 June 2009. University of Oldenburg. Germany.
Journal Article Harpole, W. Stanley; Ngai, Jacqueline T.; Cleland, Elsa E.; Seabloom, Eric; Borer, Elizabeth T.; Bracken, Matthew E.; Elser, James J.; Gruner, Daniel S.; Hillebrand, Helmut; Shurin, Jonathan B.; Smith, Jennifer E. 2011. Nutrient co-limitation of primary producer communities. Ecology Letters. Pages Online Version . (Online version)
Journal Article Hillebrand, Helmut; Gruner, Daniel S.; Borer, Elizabeth T.; Bracken, Matthew E.; Cleland, Elsa E.; Elser, James J.; Harpole, W. Stanley; Ngai, Jacqueline T.; Seabloom, Eric; Shurin, Jonathan B.; Smith, Jennifer E. 2007. Consumer versus resource control of producer diversity depends on ecosystem type and producer community structure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Vol: 104(26). Pages 10904-10909.
Presentations Hillebrand, Helmut. 2009. Control of producer diversity across ecosystems in a changing world. Symposium on effect of global change on carbon sequestration and food web structure across ecosystems, 30 June 2009. University of Oldenburg. Germany.
Journal Article Hillebrand, Helmut; Borer, Elizabeth T.; Bracken, Matthew E.; Cardinale, Bradley J.; Cebrian, Just; Cleland, Elsa E.; Elser, James J.; Gruner, Daniel S.; Harpole, W. Stanley; Ngai, Jacqueline T.; Sandin, Stuart A.; Seabloom, Eric; Shurin, Jonathan B.; Smith, Jennifer E.; Smith, Melinda D. 2009. Herbivore metabolism and stoichiometry each constrain herbivory at different organizational scales across ecosystems. Ecology Letters. Vol: 12. Pages 516-527.
Journal Article Parker, Sophie S.; Seabloom, Eric; Schimel, Joshua P. 2012. Grassland community composition drives small-scale spatial patterns in soil properties and processes. Geoderma. Vol: 170. Pages 269-279. (Online version)
Journal Article Shurin, Jonathan B.; Gruner, Daniel S.; Hillebrand, Helmut. 2006. All wet or dried up? Real differences between aquatic and terrestrial food webs. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences. Vol: 273. Pages 1-9.
Presentations Shurin, Jonathan B. 2009. Trophic structure differences across ecosystems. Symposium on effect of global change on carbon sequestration and food web structure across ecosystems, 30 June 2009. University of Oldenburg. Germany.
Presentations Wolkovich, Elizabeth M. 2007. How coupling between green and brown food webs alters trophic structure: A modeling perspective. Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, 2007. San Jose, CA.
Presentations Wolkovich, Elizabeth M. 2009. C- exudation as a cross-ecosystems phenomenon: Magnitudes, causes, & consequences. Symposium on effect of global change on carbon sequestration and food web structure across ecosystems, 30 June 2009. University of Oldenburg. Germany.