A previously unknown mathematical property has been found to be behind one of nature's greatest mysteries – how ecosystems survive.
Found in nature and common to all ecosystems the property, Trophic Coherence, is a measure of how plant and animal life interact within the food web of each ecosystem – providing scientists with the first ever mathematical understanding of their architecture and how food webs are able to grow larger while also becoming more stable.
Cool article Burra, appreciate getting my brain moving this morning.
For anyone interested in a more in depth scientific paper on this you can read it here.
From what I gather, in a nutshell, A food web is laid out in linearish fashion, this chain of predator/ prey relationships represents the path that biomass will travel through the system.
"The trophic level of a species can be defined as the average trophic level of its prey plus one. "
Essentially trophic level is a measure of how far a species is from the sources of biomass in a system.
In the paper they say trophic distance is defined as the difference between the trophic level of predator and that of the prey. The mean of all the trophic distances in a system will always equal one, and the degree of homogeneity between these distances is what is referred to as a networks trophic coherence.
So for example they would lay out something like
The plants are assigned a base level, purely herbivores have a lower trophic level than purely carnivores.
The trophic distance between carnivore to herbivore is greater than the trophic distance between carnivore and omnivore. ( I think both these values would be negative since you going back in the chain toward plants. )
The coherence of the system would depend on the variation of trophic levels between all the elements.
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