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Omnivory is omnipresent in natural communities. However, most theoretical models predict that omnivory should be rare, especially at high basal productivity. To address this incongruity, we consider as an example benthic food webs with omnivory. We present a mathematical analysis of simple benthic food webs in which a number of mechanisms promote persistence of omnivory. As a model system, we focus on the interaction between detritus, bacteria and deposit feeders that feed on both bacteria and detritus. Biomass patterns change with increasing basal productivity, triggering mechanisms that weaken the interactions between components of omnivorous interactions. Consequently, these mechanisms extend the range of organic input rates at which omnivorous interactions persist, and prevent exclusion, promoting omnivorous interactions in productive environments. These mechanisms give potential explanations for the high incidence of omnivory in benthic communities and shed insight on the persistence of omnivory in other communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-32
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006

ID: 392846