Scale and Structure in Natural Food Webs

Science  21 Aug 1992:
Vol. 257, Issue 5073, pp. 1107-1109
DOI: 10.1126/science.257.5073.1107


The degree to which widely accepted generalizations about food web structure apply to natural communities was determined through examination of 50 pelagic webs sampled consistently with even taxonomic resolution of all trophic levels. The fraction of species in various trophic categories showed no significant overall trends as the number of species varied from 10 to 74. In contrast, the number of links per species increased fourfold over the range of species number, suggesting that the link-species scaling law, defined on the basis of aggregated webs, does not reflect a real ecological trend.