Ecologists study food webs to describe the pathways by which energy (e.g. biomass) and nutrients (e.g. carbon) flow through ecosystems. The flow of energy through a food web is sensitive to changes within the ecosystem. In aquatic ecosystems, things like excess nutrient inputs, chemical contaminants and overfishing can interrupt the flow of energy and nutrients through the ecosystem, creating an unhealthy, unproductive and ecologically unsustainable environment.
SERC scientists study food web dynamics by looking at how factors like fishing and fisheries, increased nutrient pollution, acidification of water bodies, land use and shoreline type, toxins, predator-prey relationships and the addition or removal or native and non-native species can affect food web dynamics in aquatic ecosystems.