Article

Trophic Levels

Lee A. Dyer

in Ecology

ISBN: 9780199830060
Published online May 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0075
Trophic Levels

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  • Applied Ecology (Environmental Science)
  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Plant Ecology
  • Zoology and Animal Sciences

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Trophic levels are determined by feeding relationships, with basal levels consisting of primary producers or detritus and upper levels based on consumption of these basal levels. Organisms on the second trophic level are referred to as primary consumers, which are in turn consumed by secondary consumers, and so on up a theoretical trophic chain. Primary consumers consist of herbivores and detritivores, while the third trophic level and those above include predators and parasites. Energy and matter move up trophic chains, and some compounds, including various toxins, may bioaccumulate at upper trophic levels. The concept of trophic level has generated a sizeable literature yielding useful ecological models, such as trophic cascades, and debates about top-down versus bottom-up regulation of herbivores. This article focuses on the contributions of the trophic-level concept to ecological theory, evolutionary biology, and the applied fields of agricultural and global change biology.

Article.  9958 words. 

Subjects: Applied Ecology (Environmental Science) ; Ecology and Conservation ; Plant Ecology ; Zoology and Animal Sciences

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