Weaving animal temperament into food webs: Implications for biodiversity

Nicholas P. Moran, Bob B M Wong, R.M. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies into community level dynamics are revealing processes and patterns that underpin the biodiversity and complexity of natural ecosystems. Theoretical food webs have suggested that species-rich and highly complex communities are inherently unstable, but incorporating certain characteristics of empirical communities, such as allometric body size scaling and non-random interaction distributions, have been shown to enhance stability and facilitate species coexistence. Incorporating individual level traits and variability into food web theory is seen as a future pathway for this research and our growing knowledge of individual behaviours, in the form of temperament (or personality) traits, can inform the direction of this research. Temperament traits are consistent differences in behaviour between individuals, which are repeatable across time and/or across ecological contexts, such as aggressive or boldness behaviours that commonly differ between individuals of the same species. These traits, under the framework of behavioural reaction norms, show both individual consistency as well as contextual and phenotypic plasticity. This is likely to contribute significantly to the effects of individual trait variability and adaptive trophic behaviour on the structure and dynamics of food webs, which are apparently stabilizing. Exploring the role of temperament in the context of community ecology is a unique opportunity for cross-pollination between ecological fields, and can provide new insights into community stability and biodiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-930
Number of pages14
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


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