Thursday, 3 May 2012

Marine Food Chain Becomes Clearer With New Revelations About Prey Distribution



ScienceDaily (May 2, 2012) — A new study has found that each step of the marine food chain is clearly controlled by the trophic level below it -- and the driving factor influencing that relationship is not the abundance of prey, but how that prey is distributed.

The importance of the spatial pattern of resources -- sometimes called "patchiness" -- is gaining new appreciation from ecologists, who are finding the overall abundance of food less important than its density and ease of access to it.

Results of the study are being published this week in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Kelly Benoit-Bird, an Oregon State University oceanographer and lead author on the study, said patchiness is not a new concept, but one that has gained acceptance as sophisticated technologies have evolved to track relationships among marine species.

"The spatial patterns of the resource ultimately determine how the ecosystem functions," said Benoit-Bird, who received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2010. "In the past, ecologists primarily used biomass as the determining factor for understanding the food chain, and the story was always rather muddled. We used to think that the size and abundance of prey was what mattered most.

Continued:
  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120502123424.htm

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