While aquatic (blue) and terrestrial (green) food webs are parts of the same landscape, it remains unclear whether they respond similarly to shared environmental gradients. We use empirical community data from hundreds of sites across Switzerland and a synthesis of interaction information in the form of a metaweb to show that inferred blue and green food webs have different structural and ecological properties along elevation and among various land-use types.

Specifically, in green food webs, their modular structure increases with elevation and the overlap of consumers’ diet niche decreases, while the opposite pattern is observed in blue food webs. Such differences between blue and green food webs are particularly pronounced in farmland-dominated habitats, indicating that anthropogenic habitat modification modulates the climatic effects on food webs but differently in blue versus green systems.

These findings indicate general structural differences between blue and green food webs and suggest their potential divergent future alterations through land-use or climatic changes.

Ho, H.-C., Brodersen, J., Gossner, M. M., Graham, C. H., Kaeser, S., Reji Chacko, M., Seehausen, O., Zimmermann, N. E., Pellissier, L., & Altermatt, F. (2022). Blue and green food webs respond differently to elevation and land use. Nature Communications, 13(1), 6415. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-34132-9