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The Biology of Deserts$
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David Ward

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198732754

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198732754.001.0001

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Desert Food Webs and Ecosystem Ecology

Desert Food Webs and Ecosystem Ecology

(p.180) 8 Desert Food Webs and Ecosystem Ecology
The Biology of Deserts

David Ward

Oxford University Press

Food webs in deserts are often perceived to be simple. However, deserts have simple food webs only if the animals involved are small. Deserts may also have complex interactions in their food webs, involving omnivory and looping; the latter involves one species eating another at one stage of its life history and the reverse occurring at another stage. There is also an absence of compartmentalization, which consists of links that formed sub-systems that had little linkage with other trophic units. Spatial subsidies between desert webs can occur in which consumers in one system are subsidized via consumption from another web in a different habitat. Desert webs are often controlled by the pulsed nature of resource availability, when there is a very brief period of high resource availability. Decomposition in deserts is also interesting and may be controlled either by termites or by photodegradation.

Keywords:   food webs, trophic levels, food chains, omnivory, spatial subsidies, disturbances, hierarchical pulse dynamics, soil nutrients, decomposition, photodegradation

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