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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Aquatic food webs

Food webs are detailed maps of who eats whom, and therefore how big an effect a change in one species has on the other species in the community.  Humans have profound effects on the structure and functioning of biological communities, and these are often evident at the scale of the food web.  Currently we do not know how to predict the effect of changes in one species on the other species in the community.  We should be able to predict these changes using food web theory.

To address these challenges the River Communities Group, with colleagues at QMUL (Prof. Hildrew, Drs. Trimmer and Grey; see below), has manipulated a well-characterised and quantified food web, for which we have highly-resolved data, by first introducing an additional predator to the top of the web and subsequently by altering the availability and quality of the food at the base of the web.

This research explores a range of responses across multiple levels of biological organisation, from population dynamics of individual species to ecosystem processes and whole stream metabolism.  The work enables us to predict the effect of changes in one species on the other species in the community.  It allows us to construct more accurate models of the consequences of species loss or invasion on ecosystems.  Furthermore, we are using these empirical data to inform and develop new theoretical models that link metabolic theory and ecological stoichiometry in food webs.

Collaborators and stakeholders:

Selected publications in this research area:

  • Lauridsen, R.B., Edwards, F.K., Bowes, M.J., Woodward, G., Hildrew, A.G., Ibbotson, A.T. & Jones, J.I. (2012) Consumer–resource elemental imbalances in a nutrient-rich stream .  Freshwater Science 31, 408–422.
  • Beresford, A.L. & Jones, J.I. (2010) Weedbeds and big bugs: the importance of scale in detecting the influence of nutrients and predation on macroinvertebrates in plant-dominated shallow lakes.  Freshwater Biology, 55, 514-530.
  • Yvon-Doucher, G., Jones, J.I., Trimmer, M., Woodward, G. & Montoya, J.M. (2010) Warming alters the metabolic balance of ecosystems.  Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 365, 2117-2126.
  • Rawcliffe, R, Sayer, C.D., Woodward, G., Grey, J., Davidson, T.A. & J.I. Jones (2010) Back to the future: using palaeolimnology to infer long-term changes in shallow lake food webs.  Freshwater Biology, 55, 600-613.
  • Sayer, C.D., Davidson, T.A., J.I. Jones & Langdon, P.G. (2010) Combining contemporary ecology and palaeolimnology to understand shallow lake ecosystem change.  Freshwater Biology, 55, 487-499.
  • Edwards, F.K., Lauridsen, R.B., Armand, L., Vincent, H.M. & J.I. Jones (2009) The relationship between length, mass and preservation time for three species of freshwater leeches (Hirudinea). Fundamental and Applied Limnology, 173/4, 321-327.
  • Edwards, F.K., Lauridsen, R.B., Fernandes, W.P.A., Beaumont, W.R.C., Ibbotson, A.T., Scott, L. Davies, C.E. & J.I. Jones (2009) Re-introduction of Atlantic Salmon, Salmo salar L., to the Tadnoll Brook, Dorset.  Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society. 130, 9-16.
  • Ings, T.C., Montoya, J.M., Bascompte, J., Bluthgen, N., Brown, L., Dormann, C.F., Edwards, F., Figueroa, D., Jacob, U., Jones, J.I., Lauridsen, R.B., Ledger, M.E., Lewis, H.M., Olesen, J.M., Van Veen, F.J.F., Warren, P.H., & G. Woodward (2009) Ecological networks - beyond food webs. Journal of Animal Ecology, 78, 253-269. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2656.2008.01460.x
  • Edwards, F.K., Lauridsen, R.B., Duerdoth, C.P. & J.I. Jones (2008) Dry and ash-free dry mass to length relationships of bullhead (Cottus gobio L.). Fundamental and Applied Limnology, 172/4, 315-316.
  • Woodward, G., Papantoniou, G., Edwards, F.E. & R. Lauridsen (2008) Trophic trickles and cascades in a complex food web: impacts of a keystone predator on stream community structure and ecosystem processes. Oikos, 117, 683-692.
  • Jones, J.I. & E. Jeppesen (2007) Body size and trophic cascades in lakes. In:  Body Size and the Organisation and Function of Aquatic Ecosystems. Editors A.G. Hildrew, D. Raffaelli & R. Edmonds-Brown. pp. 118-139 Cambridge University Press.
  • Burks, R.L., Mulderij, G., Jones, J.I., Gross, E., Jacobsen, L., Jeppesen, J. & E. van Donk (2006) Center stage: The crucial role of macrophytes in regulating trophic interactions in shallow lake wetlands In: Wetlands: functioning, biodiversity conservation and restoration Ecological Studies 191.  Editors R. Bobbink, B. Beltman, J.T.A. Verhoeven & D.F. Whigham, pp. 37-59 Springer, Berlin.
  • Berlow, E.L., Neutel, A.-M., Cohen, J.E., de Ruiter, P.C., Ebenman, B., Emmerson, M., Fox, J.W., Jansen, V.A.A., Jones, J.I., Kokkoris, G.D., Logofet,D.O., McKane, A.J., Montoya, J.M. & O. Petchey (2004) Interaction strengths in food webs: issues and opportunities  Journal of Animal Ecology, 73: 585-598.


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