- Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
- University of Canterbury
Wootton, Kate L.; Curtsdotter, Alva; Bommarco, Riccardo; Roslin, Tomas; Jonsson, Tomas
The exchange of material and individuals between neighboring food webs is ubiquitous and affects ecosystem functioning. Here, we explore animal foraging movement between adjacent, heterogeneous habitats and its effect on a suite of interconnected ecosystem functions. Combining dynamic food web models with nutrient-recycling models, we study foraging across habitats that differ in fertility and plant diversity. We found that net foraging movement flowed from high to low fertility or high to low diversity and boosted stocks and flows across the whole loop of ecosystem functions, including biomass, detritus, and nutrients, in the recipient habitat. Contrary to common assumptions, however, the largest flows were often between the highest and intermediate fertility habitats rather than highest and lowest. The effect of consumer influx on ecosystem functions was similar to the effect of increasing fertility. Unlike fertility, however, consumer influx caused a shift toward highly predator-dominated biomass distributions, especially in habitats that were unable to support predators in the absence of consumer foraging. This shift resulted from both direct and indirect effects propagated through the interconnected ecosystem functions. Only by considering both stocks and fluxes across the whole loop of ecosystem functions do we uncover the mechanisms driving our results. In conclusion, the outcome of animal foraging movements will differ from that of dispersal and diffusion. Together we show how considering active types of animal movement and the interconnectedness of ecosystem functions can aid our understanding of the patchy landscapes of the Anthropocene.
cross-habitat foraging; metacommunity; meta-ecosystem; nutrient recycling; nutrient stocks; optimal foraging; plant diversity; productivity; spillover predation
2023, Volume: 104, number: 8, article number: e4101
SDG15 Life on land