Empirical food webs of 12 tropical reservoirs in Singapore

Clare WILKINSON*, Rayson B H LIM*, Jia Huan LIEW*, Jeffrey T B KWIK, Claudia L Y TAN, Tan Heok HUI, Darren YEO*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Food webs summarise trophic interactions of the biotic components within an ecosystem, which can influence nutrient dynamics and energy flows, ultimately affecting ecosystem functions and services. Food webs represent the hypothesised trophic links between predators and prey and can be presented as empirical food webs, in which the relative strength/importance of the respective links are quantified. Some common methods used in food web research include gut content analysis (GCA) and stable isotope analysis (SIA). We combine both methods to construct empirical food web models as a basis for monitoring and studying ecosystem-level outcomes of natural (e.g. species turnover in fish assemblage) and intentional environmental change (e.g. biomanipulation).

New information
We present 12 food webs from tropical reservoir communities in Singapore and summarise the topology of each with widely-used network indices (e.g. connectance, link density). Each reservoir was surveyed over 4–6 sampling occasions, during which, representative animal groups (i.e. fish species and taxonomic/functional groups of zooplankton and benthic macroinvertebrates) and all likely sources of primary production (i.e. macrophytes, periphyton, phytoplankton and riparian terrestrial plants) were collected. We analysed gut content in fishes and bulk isotope (d13C and d15N) profiles of all animals (i.e. fishes and invertebrates) and plants collected. Both sets of information were used to estimate the relative strength of trophic relationships using Bayesian mixing models. We document our protocol here, alongside a script in the R programming language for executing data management/analyses/visualisation procedures used in our study. These data can be used to glean insights into trends in inter- and intra-specific or guild interactions in analogous freshwater lake habitats.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere86192
JournalBiodiversity Data Journal
Early online date14 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, for permission to conduct surveys in freshwater bodies under their jurisdiction (permit no. PUB/RP11-32-1). This project was conducted under the National University of Singapore (NUS) Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Protocol B13-4690 and B18-1448. CLW was supported by funding from the Singapore Ministry of Education (Research Scholarship Block (RSB) funding for Research Fellows) and the National University of Singapore (Department of Biological Sciences and the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum). We would also like to thank all PUB reservoir staff for their assistance and support with fieldwork and the collection of data and staff at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (NUS) for aiding in the identification of species.

Funding Information:
Funding: This project was funded by PUB, Singapore’s Water Agency [National University of Singapore grant number R-154-000-619-490 and R-154-000-A20-490].

Publisher Copyright:
© Wilkinson C et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • gut content
  • stable isotope analysis
  • freshwater communities
  • reservoirs
  • trophic interactions
  • Stable isotope analysis
  • Gut content
  • Freshwater communities
  • Reservoirs
  • Trophic interactions


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