Community fluctuations and local extinction in a planktonic food web

A. M. Segura, D. Calliari, B. L. Lan, H. Fort, C. E. Widdicombe, R. Harmer, M. Arim

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetterResearchpeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Determining statistical patterns irrespective of interacting agents (i.e. macroecology) is useful to explore the mechanisms driving population fluctuations and extinctions in natural food webs. Here, we tested four predictions of a neutral model on the distribution of community fluctuations (CF) and the distributions of persistence times (APT). Novel predictions for the food web were generated by combining (1) body size–density scaling, (2) Taylor's law and (3) low efficiency of trophic transference. Predictions were evaluated on an exceptional data set of plankton with 15 years of weekly samples encompassing c. 250 planktonic species from three trophic levels, sampled in the western English Channel. Highly symmetric non-Gaussian distributions of CF support zero-sum dynamics. Variability in CF decreased while a change from an exponential to a power law distribution of APT from basal to upper trophic positions was detected. Results suggest a predictable but profound effect of trophic position on fluctuations and extinction in natural communities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)471-476
    Number of pages6
    JournalEcology Letters
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


    • English Channel
    • fluctuations
    • food web
    • macroecology
    • plankton
    • Station L4

    Cite this