One of the paper's authors, Dr Frank Van Veen from Imperial College London's NERC Centre for Population Biology, explains why this is important:
"The diversity and complexity of food webs have long been seen as good indicators of how well an ecosystem is functioning, and how stable it is, but until now we had very little idea of the processes that determine diversity and complexity. Our study has shown that changing just one element, in this case plant quality, leads to a cascade of effects that impact on predators across the food web.
"If we are to predict how environmental change is going to affect ecosystems and the functions they perform, an important part of the puzzle is to understand the mechanisms by which an effect on one species propagates through the complex network of interacting species that make up an ecosystem."
Dr Van Veen adds that their research has no implications for human sprout consumption: "Our aphid study certainly does not mean sprouts aren't good for humans to eat - our nutritional requirements differ enormously from those of insects."
|Contact: Danielle Reeves|
Imperial College London