A new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has measured the "trophic level" of human beings for the first time. Falling between 1 and 5.5, trophic levels refer to where species fit on the food chain. Apex predators like tigers and sharks are given a 5.5 on trophic scale since they survive almost entirely on consuming meat, while plants and phytoplankton, which make their own food, are at the bottom of the scale. Humans, according to the new paper, currently fall in the middle: 2.21. However, rising meat-eating in countries like China, India, and Brazil is pushing our trophic level higher with massive environmental impacts.
Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2013/1205-hance-human-trophic-levels.html#1iFF3K2R1tKPZvBy.99
The paper can be downloaded here.
Yadvinder Malhi is an ecosytem ecologist and Professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford University