Mechanistic theory and modelling of complex food-web dynamics in Lake Constance

Alice Boit, Neo D. Martinez, Richard J. Williams, Ursula Gaedke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Mechanistic understanding of consumer-resource dynamics is critical to predicting the effects of global change on ecosystem structure, function and services. Such understanding is severely limited by mechanistic models' inability to reproduce the dynamics of multiple populations interacting in the field. We surpass this limitation here by extending general consumer-resource network theory to the complex dynamics of a specific ecosystem comprised by the seasonal biomass and production patterns in a pelagic food web of a large, well-studied lake. We parameterised our allometric trophic network model of 24 guilds and 107 feeding relationships using the lake's food web structure, initial spring biomasses and body-masses. Adding activity respiration, the detrital loop, minimal abiotic forcing, prey resistance and several empirically observed rates substantially increased the model's fit to the observed seasonal dynamics and the size-abundance distribution. This process illuminates a promising approach towards improving food-web theory and dynamic models of specific habitats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)594-602
Number of pages9
JournalEcology letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Allometric Trophic Network model
  • Community ecology
  • Food web
  • Multi-trophic dynamics
  • Seasonal plankton succession

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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