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Temporal and spatial changes in benthic invertebrate trophic networks along a taxonomic richness gradient

Cite this dataset

Garrison, Julie; Nordström, Marie; Albertsson, Jan; Nascimento, Francisco (2022). Temporal and spatial changes in benthic invertebrate trophic networks along a taxonomic richness gradient [Dataset]. Dryad.


Species interactions underlie most ecosystem functions and are important for understanding ecosystem changes. Representing one type of species interaction, trophic networks were constructed from biodiversity monitoring data and known trophic links to assess how ecosystems have changed over time. The Baltic Sea is subject to many anthropogenic pressures, and low species diversity makes it an ideal candidate for determining how pressures change food webs. In this study, we used benthic monitoring data from 20 years (1980-1989 and 2010-2019) from the Swedish coast of the Baltic Sea and Skagerrak to investigate changes in benthic invertebrate trophic interactions. We constructed food webs and calculated fundamental food web metrics evaluating network horizontal and vertical diversity, as well as stability that were compared over space and time. Our results show that the west coast of Sweden (Skagerrak) suffered a reduction in benthic invertebrate biodiversity by 32 % between the 1980’s and 2010’s, and that the number of links, generality of predators, and vulnerability of prey, have been significantly reduced. The other basins (Bothnian Sea, Baltic Proper and Bornholm Basin) do not show any significant changes in species richness or consistent significant trends in any food web metrics investigated, demonstrating resilience at a lower species diversity. The decreased complexity of the Skagerrak food webs indicates vulnerability to further perturbations and pressures should be limited as much as possible to ensure continued ecosystem functions.


Swedish national monitoring of macrofauna data from the public Swedish Hydrological and Meterological Institute (SMHI) SharkWeb ( Known literature feeding link references provided within.


Swedish Research Council for Environment Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning, Award: 2016-00804