A stoichiometrically explicit approach to food web ecology yields new insight into promotion and degradation of diversity, changes in species composition along environmental gradients, biomass partitioning among trophic levels, and limitation of primary production. These revelations emerge from food web modules that incorporate fundamental constraints imposed by mass balance and a key trait, stoichiometric body composition, into a species’ niche. These niche components involve a species’ requirements from its environment and its own impacts on its environment. More specifically, stoichiometric composition influences minimal nutrient requirements of consumers (perhaps especially grazers); this component becomes pertinent because large imbalances often arise between nutrient:carbon content of consumers relative to prey. Furthermore, these imbalances then modulate the impact of consumers on their own resources through nutrient recycling. Once these niche components become synthesized, their implications in shaping food webs provide powerful mechanisms linking changes in environmental gradients with community structure and ecosystem function.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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