A New Method to Reconstruct Quantitative Food Webs and Nutrient Flows from Isotope Tracer Addition Experiments
López-Sepulcre, A., Bruneaux, M., Collins, S. M., El-Sabaawi, R., Flecker, A. S., & Thomas, S. A. (2020). A New Method to Reconstruct Quantitative Food Webs and Nutrient Flows from Isotope Tracer Addition Experiments. American Naturalist, 195(6), 964-985. https://doi.org/10.1086/708546
Published inAmerican Naturalist
© 2020 University of Chicago
Understanding how nutrients flow through food webs is central in ecosystem ecology. Tracer addition experiments are powerful tools to reconstruct nutrient flows by adding an isotopically enriched element into an ecosystem and tracking its fate through time. Historically, the design and analysis of tracer studies have varied widely, ranging from descriptive studies to modeling approaches of varying complexity. Increasingly, isotope tracer data are being used to compare ecosystems and analyze experimental manipulations. Currently, a formal statistical framework for analyzing such experiments is lacking, making it impossible to calculate the estimation errors associated with the model fit, the interdependence of compartments, and the uncertainty in the diet of consumers. In this article we develop a method based on Bayesian hidden Markov models and apply it to the analysis of N15‐NH4+ tracer additions in two Trinidadian streams in which light was experimentally manipulated. Through this case study, we illustrate how to estimate N fluxes between ecosystem compartments, turnover rates of N within those compartments, and the associated uncertainty. We also show how the method can be used to compare alternative models of food web structure, calculate the error around derived parameters, and make statistical comparisons between sites or treatments. ...
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
ISSN Search the Publication Forum0003-0147
Dataset(s) related to the publicationhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.8sf7m0chx
Publication in research information system
MetadataShow full item record
Related funder(s)Academy of Finland
Funding program(s)Academy Project, AoF
Additional information about fundingFunding was provided by grants from the Academy of Finland (295941) to A.L.-S. and a Frontiers in Integrative Biological Research (FIBR) grant from the National Science Foundation (EF0623632) to A.S.F. and S.A.T.
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