Species richness and allometric scaling jointly determine biomass in model aquatic food webs

Zachary T. Long, Christopher F. Steiner, Jennifer Adams Krumins, Peter J. Morin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


1. Allometric theory makes specific predictions about how density, and consequently biomass, scale with organism size within trophic levels, across trophic levels and across food webs. 2. Diversity-yield relationships suggest that more diverse food webs can sometimes support more biomass through mechanisms involving niche complementarity or selection effects that are sometimes attributed to organism size. 3. We combine the above two approaches and show that, generally, density and biomass scale with organism size within and between trophic levels as predicted by allometric theory. Further, food webs converged in total biomass despite persistent differences in the composition and size of the organisms among food webs; species richness explained deviations from the constant yield of biomass expected from size-abundance relationships. 4. Our results suggest that organism size plays only a transient role in controlling community biomass because population increases or decreases lead to rapid convergence in biomass. Species richness affects community biomass independently by effectively increasing the mass of organisms that can be supported in a given productivity regime.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1014-1023
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • Allometry
  • Diversity
  • Ecosystem functioning
  • Food web
  • Metabolic theory


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