Predator biomass no match for prey


    Twice as much prey does not lead to twice as many predators, according to Ian Hatton at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and his colleagues.

    In theory, more prey should mean more predators. The authors analysed published data on biomass and numbers of individuals for 2,260 ecosystems in 1,512 locations worldwide. They found that the biomass of predators increased along with the biomass of their prey, but that the ratio of the two values decreased. Across ecosystems from grassland to oceans, the ratio scales with an exponent of around 0.75, rather than scaling by 1 as in a linear relationship.

    Similar scaling laws are well known between an organism's body mass and features such as metabolism, growth and reproduction, but had not been identified across whole ecosystems, say the researchers. This indicates an unappreciated degree of ecosystem organization.

    Science (2015)

    Rights and permissions

    Reprints and Permissions

    About this article

    Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

    Cite this article

    Predator biomass no match for prey. Nature 525, 161 (2015).

    Download citation


    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.