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Parasitism and Ecosystems$
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Frédéric Thomas, François Renaud, and Jean-François Guegan

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198529873

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198529873.001.0001

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Food web patterns and the parasite's Perspective

Food web patterns and the parasite's Perspective

Chapter:
(p.54) CHAPTER 4 Food web patterns and the parasite's Perspective
Source:
Parasitism and Ecosystems
Author(s):

Michael V. K. Sukhdeo

Alexander D. Hernandez

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198529873.003.0005

Food webs are theoretical abstractions of the complex linkages and interactions that are thought to occur in nature. Although few real food webs have actually been characterized scientifically, there is a large body of literature on the processes that contribute towards complexity and stability in webs. Food webs are generally thought of as ‘what eats what’ webs, but parasites are not usually incorporated into webs even though parasitism is a feeding strategy shared by a majority of species on earth (70%). This chapter examines major ideas on the roles of parasites in food webs, starting with Elton’s (1927) idea that parasites are analogous to predators. It describes some general patterns of parasite web structure (e.g., inverted pyramid of numbers and body size hypotheses) using both available published data and data from studies on food webs in freshwater streams in New Jersey.

Keywords:   host specificity, productivity, eltonian pyramids, helminths, trophic cascade

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