An overview of studies on trophic ecology in the marine environment: Achievements and perspectives

Martin Lindsey Christoffersen, Maria Elisabeth de Araújo, Joaquim Olinto Branco


Classical approaches to trophic ecology of marine species has focused on trophic structure, trophodynamics, dominant and keystone species, ecosystem maturity, energy transfer, and anthropic effects. A recent breakthrough for evaluating the structure of communities has been the application of phylogenetic methods to community ecology. This recent approach is known as community phylogenetics. Although this perspective is still not common in trophic studies, phylogenetic methods promise new insights into the old ecological question on how communities are assembled in time. Integrating phylogenetics and ecosystem function creates the possibility of predicting ecological consequences of biodiversity shifts in a changing world. Once we understand the structure and functioning of the ecosystem in a historical context, we should be able to avoid humanor natural disturbances that draw a system away from its state of maximum complexity.

Key words: trophic structure, trophodynamics, keystone species, ecosystem maturity, energy transfer, anthropic effects, community phylogenetics.

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