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Spatial Foodweb Ecology Group

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Spatial Foodweb Ecology Group
Department of Agricultural Sciences
PO Box 27 (Latokartanonkaari 5)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

phone +358 (0) 2941 57659



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Insect food webs in space and time

To a close approximation, all animals on Earth are insects – both in terms of species numbers and biomass. To understand why insect communities are structured like they are, we need to understand how strongly different species interact with each other in time and space, how that affects their abundances, and how this is reflected in ecosystem functioning. The Spatial Foodweb Ecology Group focuses on general patterns in insect community structure across multiple sites in space and time, and on how such patterns translate into function. We are particularly interested in how insect food webs are built from first principles: how (meta)populations of multiple species interact, and how species-specific characteristics blend with interspecific interactions in shaping what insects occur where and at what abundances.



Fig 1. Local food webs in a spatial perspective. The right-hand map shows the locations of all 1868 oak trees (black dots) within our study area on the island of Wattkast (5 km2; SW Finland). For 22 of the trees, we have constructed individual, quantitative food webs, with the area of each food web graph scaled to local sample size. In each web, the lower bar represents host species and the upper bar parasitoid species. The width of the bar represents the abundance of the species in the community.For details, see Kaartinen & Roslin 2013. Ecological Entomology 38: 522–530; Kaartinen & Roslin. 2012. Oikos 121: 1771–1782; Kaartinen & Roslin 2011. Journal of Animal Ecology, 80: 622–631.