How geographic productivity patterns affect food-web evolution
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It is well recognized that spatial heterogeneity and overall productivity have important consequences for the diversity and community structure of food webs. Yet, few, if any, studies have considered the effects of heterogeneous spatial distributions of primary production. Here, we theoretically investigate how the variance and autocorrelation length of primary production affect properties of evolved food webs consisting of one autotroph and several heterotrophs. We report the following findings. (1) Diversity increases with landscape variance and is unimodal in autocorrelation length. (2) Trophic level increases with landscape variance and is unimodal in autocorrelation length. (3) The extent to which the spatial distribution of heterotrophs differ from that of the autotroph increases with landscape variance and decreases with autocorrelation length. (4) Components of initial disruptive selection experienced by the ancestral heterotroph predict properties of the final evolved communities. Prior to our study reported here, several authors had hypothesized that diversity increases with the landscape variance of productivity. Our results support their hypothesis and contribute new facets by providing quantitative predictions that also account for autocorrelation length and additional properties of the evolved communities.
- RESEARCH: Hui C