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Tradeoffs in Community Properties Through Time in a Desert Rodent Community
American Naturalist
  • Ethan P White, Utah State University
  • S.K. Morgan Ernest, Utah State University
  • K. M. Thibault
Document Type
University of Chicago Press
Publication Date
Resource limitation represents an important constraint on ecological communities, which restricts the total abundance, biomass, and community energy flux a given community can support. However, the exact relationship among these three measures of biological activity remains unclear. Here we use a simple framework that links abundance and biomass with an energetic constraint. Under constant energetic availability, it is expected that changes in abundance and biomass can result from shifts in the distribution of individual masses. We test these predictions using long-term data from a desert rodent community. Total energy use for the community has not changed directionally for 25 years, but species composition has. As a result, the average body size has decreased by almost 50% and average abundance has doubled. These results lend support to the idea of resource limitation on desert rodent communities and demonstrate that systems are able to maintain community energy flux in the face of environmental change, through changes in composition and structure.
Citation Information
White, E.P., S.K.M. Ernest, K.M. Thibault. 2004. Tradeoffs in community properties through time in a desert rodent community. American Naturalist 164: 670-676.