Body size and trophic position in a diverse tropical food web Academic Article uri icon


  • We use stomach contents and stable isotope ratios of predatory fishes, collected over a 10-year time span from a species-rich river in Venezuela, to examine potential body-size-trophic-position relationships. Mean body size of predator taxa and their prey (determined by stomach content analyses) were significantly correlated, but trophic position of predators (estimated by stable isotope ratios) was not correlated with body size. This reflects no apparent relationship between body size and trophic position among prey taxa. Primary consumer taxa (algivores and detritivores) in this system are characterized by diverse size and morphology, and thus predatory fish of all body sizes and feeding strategies are able to exploit taxa feeding low in the food web. Regardless of relative body size, predators exploit short, productive food chains. For any given food chain within a complex web where predators are larger than their prey, trophic position and body size are necessarily correlated. But in diverse food webs characterized by a broad range of primary consumer body size, apparently there is no relationship between trophic position and body size across all taxa in the web. 2005 by the Ecological Society of America.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Layman, C. A., Winemiller, K. O., Arrington, D. A., & Jepsen, D. B.

citation count

  • 186

complete list of authors

  • Layman, CA||Winemiller, KO||Arrington, DA||Jepsen, DB

publication date

  • September 2005