Interplay Between Scale, Resolution, Life History and Food Web Properties
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Perhaps the greatest challenge for ecologists is to predict population dynamics and ecological interactions of species-rich systems. In studying food webs of species-rich systems, ecologists necessarily sacrifice much resolution and complexity of the real world. Moreover, species life history strategies interact with environmental variation at multiple scales in space and time to yield variable degrees of density-independent population regulation. Is the quest for predictive food web models too daunting of a challenge? Peter Yodzis clearly recognized and articulated the principal obstacles and parameters of the problem. The indeterminacy of ecological dynamics in species-rich food webs is apparent, even when species interactions are projected using relatively simple functions. Peter shed much light on the manner in which life history strategies, scale, and resolution in food webs influence population dynamics. Can the taxonomic and ecological diversity of nature be defined in units that permit prediction of population dynamics? This chapter reviews these issues, and briefly describes recent empirical field research in a tropical river designed to reveal food web structure and dynamics based on web modules. Evidence from recent field experiments suggests that, at appropriate scales of resolution, we may be able predict dynamics of some of the major elements of the system. To bridge the gap between food web theory and empirical research, several theoretical and, as importantly, practical issues will require greater attention than they have received in the past. 2007 Springer.
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From Energetics to Ecosystems: The Dynamics and Structure of Ecological Systems