Detection of energetic equivalence depends on food web architecture and estimators of energy use

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Poppy Joaquina Romera, Benoit Gauzens, Ana Carolina Antunes, Ulrich Brose, Nico Eisenhauer, Olga Ferlian, Myriam Hirt, Malte Jochum, Grace Mitchell, David Ott, Anton Potapov, Bibishan Rai, Stefan Scheu, Kiri Joy Wallace, Andrew D Barnes


Ecologists have long debated the universality of the energetic equivalence rule (EER), which posits that population energy use should be invariant with average body size due to negative size–density scaling. We explored size–density and size–energy use scaling across 183 geographically–distributed soil invertebrate food webs to investigate the universality of these fundamental EER assumptions. Additionally, we compared two measures of energy use to investigate size–energy use relationships: population metabolism and energy fluxes. We found that size–density scaling did not support energetic equivalence in soil communities. Furthermore, evidence of energetic equivalence was dependent on the estimate of energy use applied (population metabolism or energy flux), the trophic level of consumers, and food web properties. Our study demonstrates a need to integrate food web energetics and trophic structure to better understand how energetic constraints shape the body size structure of terrestrial ecosystems.



Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Life Sciences, Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Population Biology, Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


Metabolic Theory of Ecology, community assembly, body size, abundance, Scaling, soil invertebrates, metabolism, energy flux


Published: 2024-07-04 18:06


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Data and Code Availability Statement:
Data and code supporting the results have been archived in appropriate public repositories and are currently under embargo until paper is published. Code DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.25591227 and data DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.25591254. All data from the EFForTS and ECOWORM project can be requested by contacting the corresponding author of Antunes et al. (2023).