The biomass ratio of herbivores to primary producers reflects the structure of a community. Four primary factors have been proposed to affect this ratio, including production rate, defense traits and nutrient contents of producers, and predation by carnivores. However, identifying the joint effects of these factors across natural communities has been elusive, in part because of the lack of a framework for examining their effects simultaneously. Here, we develop a framework based on Lotka–Volterra equations for examining the effects of these factors on the biomass ratio. We then utilize it to test if these factors simultaneously affect the biomass ratio of freshwater plankton communities. We found that all four factors contributed significantly to the biomass ratio, with carnivore abundance having the greatest effect, followed by producer stoichiometric nutrient content. Thus, the present framework should be useful for examining the multiple factors shaping various types of communities, both aquatic and terrestrial.