Topological structure and interaction strengths in model food webs

Christopher Quince, Paul G. Higgs, Alan J. McKane

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We report the results of carrying out a large number of simulations on a coevolutionary model of multispecies communities. A wide range of parameter values were investigated which allowed a rather complete picture of the change in behaviour of the model as these parameters were varied to be built up. Our main interest was in the nature of the community food webs constructed via the simulations. We identify the range of parameter values which give rise to realistic food webs and give arguments which allow some of the structure which is found to be understood in an intuitive way. Since the webs are evolved according to the rules of the model, the strengths of the predator-prey links are not determined a priori, and emerge from the process of constructing the web. We measure the distribution of these link strengths, and find that there are a large number of weak links, in agreement with recent suggestions. We also review some of the data on food webs available in the literature, and make some tentative comparisons with our results. The difficulties of making such comparisons and the possible future developments of the model are also briefly discussed. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)389-412
    Number of pages23
    JournalEcological Modelling
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2005


    • Coevolutionary model
    • Food webs
    • Interaction strengths
    • Multispecies communities
    • Weak links


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