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Spatial Foodweb Ecology Group
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. In 2010, we created quantitative food webs for individual oaks in different fragmentation zones. Food webs were drawn for 82 trees, of which thirty are shown here. From the thirty trees 29 705 insects were observed, of which 7080 were reared. Shown are all 82 trees, the thirty food webs, their locations and fragmentation zones. From: Kaartinen, R. & Roslin, T. 2011. Shrinking by numbers: Landscape context affects the species composition but not the quantitative structure of local food webs. Journal of Animal Ecology, 80: 622–631.