Desert food webs and ecosystem ecology
This chapter begins with the trophic model of Hairston, Smith, and Slobodkin and the food-web model generated by Cohen. It explains why, even in a desert, such generalities are inappropriate. Desert food-webs are much more complex than the ones described by previous researchers, and indicate that: energetics is not necessarily the most appropriate way to view food-webs; interaction webs (describing population effects) and descriptive webs (quantifying energy and matter flow) are not necessarily congruent; and consumer regulation of populations need involve little energy transfer and few feeding interactions. Most importantly, if the animals at the bottom of the chain are small, then more steps can be incorporated as one moves up the trophic pyramid. The important roles of disturbances and decomposition are considered.
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