Publication details.


Author(s):R. Heleno, W. Ripple, A. Traveset
Title:Scientists' warning on endangered food webs
Journal:Web Ecology
JCR Impact Factor:1.545
Issue No.:1
Abstract:© 2020 BMJ Publishing Group. All rights reserved.All organisms are ultimately dependent on a large diversity of consumptive and non-consumptive interactions established with other organisms, forming an intricate web of interdependencies. In 1992, when 1700 concerned scientists issued the first "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity", our understanding of such interaction networks was still in its infancy. By simultaneously considering the species (nodes) and the links that glue them together into functional communities, the study of modern food webs - or more generally ecological networks - has brought us closer to a predictive community ecology. Scientists have now observed, manipulated, and modelled the assembly and the collapse of food webs under various global change stressors and identified common patterns. Most stressors, such as increasing temperature, biological invasions, biodiversity loss, habitat fragmentation, over-exploitation, have been shown to simplify food webs by concentrating energy flow along fewer pathways, threatening long-term community persistence. More worryingly, it has been shown that communities can abruptly change from highly diverse to simplified stable states with little or no warning. Altogether, evidence shows that apart from the challenge of tackling climate change and hampering the extinction of threatened species, we need urgent action to tackle large-scale biological change and specifically to protect food webs, as we are under the risk of pushing entire ecosystems outside their safe zones. At the same time, we need to gain a better understanding of the global-scale synergies and trade-offs between climate change and biological change. Here we highlight the most pressing challenges for the conservation of natural food webs and recent advances that might help us addressing such challenges.

Related staff

  • Anna Traveset Vilagines
  • Related departments

  • Oceanography and Global Change
  • Related research groups

  • Global Change Research