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How habitat-modifying organisms structure the food web of two coastal ecosystems
Van der Zee, E.M.; Angelini, C.; Govers, L.; Christianen, M.J.A.; Altieri, A.H.; van der Reijden, K.J.; Silliman, B.R.; van de Koppel, J.; van der Geest, M.; van Gils, J.A.; van der Veer, H.W.; Piersma, T.; de Ruiter, P.C.; Olff, H.; van der Heide, T. (2016). How habitat-modifying organisms structure the food web of two coastal ecosystems. Proc. - Royal Soc., Biol. Sci. 283(1826): 20152326.
In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B. The Royal Society: London. ISSN 0962-8452; e-ISSN 1471-2954, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    consumer–resource interactions; non-trophic interactions; facilitation; ecological networks; ecosystem engineering; foundation species

Authors  Top 
  • Van der Zee, E.M., more
  • Angelini, C.
  • Govers, L.
  • Christianen, M.J.A.
  • Altieri, A.H.
  • van der Reijden, K.J.
  • Silliman, B.R.
  • van de Koppel, J., more
  • van der Geest, M., more
  • van Gils, J.A., more
  • van der Veer, H.W., more
  • Piersma, T., more
  • de Ruiter, P.C.
  • Olff, H.
  • van der Heide, T.

    The diversity and structure of ecosystems has been found to depend both ontrophic interactions in food webs and on other species interactions such ashabitat modification and mutualism that form non-trophic interactionnetworks. However, quantification of the dependencies between these twomain interaction networks has remained elusive. In this study, we assessedhow habitat-modifying organisms affect basic food web properties byconducting in-depth empirical investigations of two ecosystems: NorthAmerican temperate fringing marshes and West African tropical seagrassmeadows. Results reveal that habitat-modifying species, through non-trophicfacilitation rather than their trophic role, enhance species richness acrossmultiple trophic levels, increase the number of interactions per species(link density), but decrease the realized fraction of all possible links withinthe food web (connectance). Compared to the trophic role of the most highlyconnected species, we found this non-trophic effects to be more importantfor species richness and of more or similar importance for link density andconnectance. Our findings demonstrate that food webs can be fundamentallyshaped by interactions outside the trophic network, yet intrinsic to thespecies participating in it. Better integration of non-trophic interactions infood web analyses may therefore strongly contribute to their explanatoryand predictive capacity.

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