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The role of discharge variation in scaling of drainage area and food chain length in rivers

Science

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Abstract

Food chain length (FCL) is a fundamental component of food web structure. Studies in a variety of ecosystems suggest that FCL is determined by energy supply, environmental stability, and/or ecosystem size, but the nature of the relationship between environmental stability and FCL, and the mechanism linking ecosystem size to FCL, remain unclear. Here we show that FCL increases with drainage area and decreases with hydrologic variability and intermittency across 36 North American rivers. Our analysis further suggests that hydrologic variability is the mechanism underlying the correlation between ecosystem size and FCL in rivers. Ecosystem size lengthens river food chains by integrating and attenuating discharge variation through stream networks, thereby enhancing environmental stability in larger river systems.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
The role of discharge variation in scaling of drainage area and food chain length in rivers
Series title:
Science
Volume
330
Issue:
6006
Year Published:
2010
Language:
English
Publisher:
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s):
Southwest Biological Science Center
Description:
3 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
965
Last page:
967