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For most species, the logarithm of their average body mass is negatively related to the logarithm of their relative population density, i.e. the numerical abundance. In this way, the allometric scaling (both mass–abundance regressions and body–size spectra) becomes useful in ecological theory to build and explain food webs. Using empirical evidence derived from 145 Dutch sites, a hypothesis is formulated to explain how soil microbivores, detritivores and predators react to increasing resource availability. Shifts in size distribution, and subsequently changes in soil food-web structure, are further discussed in the perspective of Holling's sequential interactions between basic system functions. We show that the allometric scaling and the averages of the (log-transformed) prey:predator body-mass ratios are reliable predictors for assessing faunal responses to nutrient availability. We view this work as a first attempt toward an extensive comparison of ecological processes in different soil systems.