Food Webs Virtual Issue




The field of food web ecology has experienced an explosion of interest since the turn of the century. We are seeing more highly resolved webs, with increased temporal replication; the development of molecular techniques to more accurately describe trophic linkages; the first descriptions of microbial black boxes; and an increasing appreciation for the importance of non-trophic interactions. Less than ten years ago, in the formative years of my PhD, it was a struggle to find high resolution food webs for comparison with those I began to study at Lough Hyne marine reserve. It struck me that so many of those few had a conspicuous link with the Journal of Animal Ecology: Stephen Hall and Dave Raffaelli's investigation of the Ythan Estuary; Guy Woodward's detailed descriptions of Broadstone Stream; Jane Memmot's Scotch Broom food web; and Peter Yodzis' exploration of the Benguela ecosystem. Food webs have been at the heart of the journal ever since Bob Paine noted that their "trophic scaffolding provides a tempting descriptor of community structure" and its connection to stability is an issue of "vital ecological importance".

In recent years, a new generation of food web ecologists have advanced the field by studying new types of ecological networks, exploring their size-structuring properties, and increasing our predictive capacity. The journal has reflected these changing times, with an ever-increasing number of papers on mutualistic and host-parasite networks, economically important agro-ecosystems, non-consumptive interactions, experimental manipulations of food webs, and mechanistic models. Here, I have tried to represent the recent diversity of food web research by selecting publications across these themes from the past two years. I have chosen some classic papers for a little context of the journal's esteemed history in food web ecology, and I end with a recent review that summarises our progress in the field to date, while also identifying the next critical steps – a reminder that we have made great progress in this complex field in recent times, but there is still work to be done. I am sure we will see much of that progress in the pages of JAE in the coming years.

Eoin O'Gorman
Associate Editor, Journal of Animal Ecology

Classic observations

Food webs: linkage, interaction strength and community infrastructure
Robert T. Paine

Food-web patterns: lessons from a species-rich web
Stephen J. Hall and Dave Raffaelli

Body sizes of animal predators and animal prey in food webs
Joel E. Cohen, Stuart L. Pimm, Peter Yodzis and Joan Saldana

Mutualistic and host-parasite networks

Evaluating sampling completeness in a desert plant–pollinator network
Natacha P. Chacoff, Diego P. Vázquez, Silvia B. Lomáscolo, Erica L. Stevani, Jimena Dorado and Benigno Padrón

Topological plasticity increases robustness of mutualistic networks
Rodrigo Ramos-Jiliberto, Fernanda S. Valdovinos, Pablo Moisset de Espanés and José D. Flores

Temporal dynamics of direct reciprocal and indirect effects in a host–parasite network
Shai Pilosof, Miguel A. Fortuna, Maxim V. Vinarski, Natalia P. Korallo-Vinarskaya and Boris R. Krasnov

Phylogeny determines the role of helminth parasites in intertidal food webs
Robert Poulin, Boris R. Krasnov, Shai Pilosof and David W. Thieltges


Trophic links between functional groups of arable plants and beetles are stable at a national scale
David R. Brooks, Jonathan Storkey, Suzanne J. Clark, Les G. Firbank, Sandrine Petit and Ian P. Woiwod

The importance of landscape and spatial structure for hymenopteran-based food webs in an agro-ecosystem
Yvonne Fabian, Nadine Sandau, Odile T. Bruggisser, Alex Aebi, Patrik Kehrli, Rudolf P. Rohr, Russell E. Naisbit and Louis-Félix Bersier

Non-consumptive interactions

Top-down control of prey increases with drying disturbance in ponds: a consequence of non-consumptive interactions?
Hamish S. Greig, Scott A. Wissinger and Angus R. McIntosh

Partitioning the effects of an ecosystem engineer: kangaroo rats control community structure via multiple pathways
Laura R. Prugh and Justin S. Brashares

Trophic cascades: linking ungulates to shrub-dependent birds and butterflies
Kristine J. Teichman, Scott E. Nielsen and Jens Roland

Experimental manipulations

Evaluating the effects of trophic complexity on a keystone predator by disassembling a partial intraguild predation food web
Jon M. Davenport and David R. Chalcraft

Trophic complexity enhances ecosystem functioning in an aquatic detritus-based model system
Jérémy Jabiol, Brendan G. McKie, Andreas Bruder, Caroline Bernadet, Mark O. Gessner and Eric Chauvet

Bottom-up effects of species diversity on the functioning and stability of food webs
Anita Narwani and Asit Mazumder

Distinguishing between direct and indirect effects of predators in complex ecosystems
Nessa E. O’Connor, Mark C. Emmerson, Tasman P. Crowe and Ian Donohue

Complexity of multitrophic interactions in a grassland ecosystem depends on plant species diversity
Michael Rzanny and Winfried Voigt

Mechanistic models

Temperature dependence of trophic interactions are driven by asymmetry of species responses and foraging strategy
Anthony I. Dell, Samraat Pawar and Van M. Savage

Beyond diversity: how nested predator effects control ecosystem functions
Florian D. Schneider and Ulrich Brose

Looking to the future

Ecological networks – beyond food webs
Thomas C. Ings, José M. Montoya, Jordi Bascompte, Nico Blüthgen, Lee Brown, Carsten F. Dormann, François Edwards, David Figueroa, Ute Jacob, J. Iwan Jones, Rasmus B. Lauridsen, Mark E. Ledger, Hannah M. Lewis, Jens M. Olesen, F.J. Frank van Veen, Phil H. Warren and Guy Woodward

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