Quantitative description of food webs provides fundamental information for the understanding of population, community, and ecosystem dynamics. Recently, stable isotope mixing models have been widely used to quantify dietary proportions of different food resources to a focal consumer. Here we propose a novel mixing model (IsoWeb) that estimates diet proportions of all consumers in a food web based on stable isotope information. IsoWeb requires a topological description of a food web, and stable isotope signatures of all consumers and resources in the web. A merit of IsoWeb is that it takes into account variation in trophic enrichment factors among different consumer-resource links. Sensitivity analysis using realistic hypothetical food webs suggests that IsoWeb is applicable to a wide variety of food webs differing in the number of species, connectance, sample size, and data variability. Sensitivity analysis based on real topological webs showed that IsoWeb can allow for a certain level of topological uncertainty in target food webs, including erroneously assuming false links, omission of existent links and species, and trophic aggregation into trophospecies. Moreover, using an illustrative application to a real food web, we demonstrated that IsoWeb can compare the plausibility of different candidate topologies for a focal web. These results suggest that IsoWeb provides a powerful tool to analyze food-web structure from stable isotope data. We provide R and BUGS codes to aid efficient applications of IsoWeb.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)