Relating trophic resources to community structure: a predictive index of food availability

Last modified: 
April 19, 2017 - 9:40pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2017
Date published: 02/2017
Authors: Valerio Zupo, Timothy Alexander, Graham Edgar
Journal title: Royal Society Open Science
Volume: 4
Issue: 2
Pages: 160515

The abundance and the distribution of trophic resources available for consumers influence the productivity and the diversity of natural communities. Nevertheless, assessment of the actual abundance of food items available for individual trophic groups has been constrained by differences in methods and metrics used by various authors. Here we develop an index of food abundance, the framework of which can be adapted for different ecosystems. The relative available food index (RAFI) is computed by considering standard resource conditions of a habitat and the influence of various generalized anthropogenic and natural factors. RAFI was developed using published literature on food abundance and validated by comparison of predictions versus observed trophic resources across various marine sites. RAFI tables here proposed can be applied to a range of marine ecosystems for predictions of the potential abundance of food available for each trophic group, hence permitting exploration of ecological theories by focusing on the deviation from the observed to the expected.

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