Body size in ecological networks

Trends Ecol Evol. 2005 Jul;20(7):402-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2005.04.005.


Body size determines a host of species traits that can affect the structure and dynamics of food webs, and other ecological networks, across multiple scales of organization. Measuring body size provides a relatively simple means of encapsulating and condensing a large amount of the biological information embedded within an ecological network. Recently, important advances have been made by incorporating body size into theoretical models that explore food web stability, the patterning of energy fluxes, and responses to perturbations. Because metabolic constraints underpin body-size scaling relationships, metabolic theory offers a potentially useful new framework within which to develop novel models to describe the structure and functioning of ecological networks and to assess the probable consequences of biodiversity change.