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CABI Book Chapter

Invertebrates as webmasters in ecosystems.

Book cover for Invertebrates as webmasters in ecosystems.


The current understanding of invertebrates in terrestrial and terrestrially dominated (i.e. lower-order stream) ecosystems is reviewed and assessed. The book emphasizes the centrality of the activity of invertebrates (including arthropods, insects and nematodes), which influence ecosystem function far out of proportion to their physical mass in a wide range of situations, particularly at the inter...

Chapter 1 (Page no: 3)

Food web functioning and ecosystem processes: problems and perceptions of scaling.

This chapter addresses the following questions: what determines the scales at which species and food web effects are apparent as process controls, and how the often disparate scales at which organisms operate be linked and system properties are measured? The difficulty of linking species and processes appears to be a consequence of 3 attributes of these systems. The first is that it is difficult to measure, model or understand the contributions of large numbers of species in a functional group, particularly for modulation processes which have residual effects. Secondly, measurements of decomposition, nitrogen mineralization or gas fluxes are integrating measures of community activity. Thirdly, as the dimensions of a system are expanded, processes are increasingly dominated by the biophysical properties of soil organic matter and mineral pools which buffer the effects of organism activities in soil microsites. Two approaches considered for linking microsite and macroscale processes were to analyse the activities of organisms within functional repetitive units, which may be associated with the spatial patterns of plants, litter or animal activities, or to use changes in soil biophysical diversity as a link between soil functioning and community activity.

Other chapters from this book

Chapter: 2 (Page no: 25) Keystone arthropods as webmasters in desert ecosystems. Author(s): Whitford, W. G.
Chapter: 3 (Page no: 43) Responses of grassland soil invertebrates to natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Author(s): Blair, J. M. Todd, T. C. Callaham, M. A., Jr.
Chapter: 4 (Page no: 73) Effects of invertebrates in lotic ecosystem processes. Author(s): Wallace, J. B. Hutchens, J. J., Jr.
Chapter: 5 (Page no: 99) Insects as regulators of ecosystem development. Author(s): Schowalter, T. D.
Chapter: 6 (Page no: 115) Herbivores, biochemical messengers and plants: aspects of intertrophic transduction. Author(s): Dyer, M. I.
Chapter: 7 (Page no: 141) Soil invertebrate controls and microbial interactions in nutrient and organic matter dynamics in natural and agroecosystems. Author(s): Edwards, C. A.
Chapter: 8 (Page no: 161) Invertebrates in detrital food webs along gradients of productivity. Author(s): Moore, J. C. Ruiter, P. C. de
Chapter: 9 (Page no: 187) Biodiversity of oribatid mites (Acari: Oribatida) in tree canopies and litter. Author(s): Behan-Pelletier, V. Walter, D. E.
Chapter: 10 (Page no: 203) Diversity in the decomposing landscape. Author(s): Hansen, R. A.
Chapter: 11 (Page no: 221) The pervasive ecological effects of invasive species: exotic and native fire ants. Author(s): Carroll, C. R. Hoffman, C. A.
Chapter: 12 (Page no: 233) Soil invertebrate species diversity in natural and disturbed environments. Author(s): Rusek, J.
Chapter: 13 (Page no: 255) Invertebrates and nutrient cycling in coniferous forest ecosystems: spatial heterogeneity and conditionality. Author(s): Bolger, T. M. Heneghan, L. J. Neville, P.
Chapter: 14 (Page no: 271) Impacts of insects on human-dominated and natural forest landscapes. Author(s): Coulson, R. N. Wunneburger, D. F.
Chapter: 15 (Page no: 293) Soil fauna and controls of carbon dynamics: comparisons of rangelands and forests across latitudinal gradients. Author(s): Seastedt, T. R.
Chapter: 16 (Page no: 313) Soil processes and global change: will invertebrates make a difference? Author(s): Groffman, P. M. Jones, C. G.

Chapter details

  • Author Affiliation
  • School of Biological Sciences, University of Exeter, Hatherly Laboratories, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter EX4 4PS, UK.
  • Year of Publication
  • 2000
  • ISBN
  • 085199394X
  • Record Number
  • 20083014823