Trophic cascades revealed in diverse ecosystems

Trends Ecol Evol. 1999 Dec;14(12):483-488. doi: 10.1016/s0169-5347(99)01723-1.


New studies are documenting trophic cascades in theoretically unlikely systems such as tropical forests and the open ocean. Together with increasing evidence of cascades, there is a deepening understanding of the conditions that promote and inhibit the transmission of predatory effects. These conditions include the relative productivity of ecosystems, presence of refuges and the potential for compensation. However, trophic cascades are also altered by humans. Analyses of the extirpation of large animals reveal loss of cascades, and the potential of conservation to restore not only predator populations but also the ecosystem-level effects that ramify from their presence.