Process & Systems Modelling

Emergence of diversity-stability-productivity relationships

The unprecedented rate of loss of the Earth’s biodiversity is a major concern, both in its own right and because of the potential for diversity to influence the stability of globally and locally important ecosystem functions and services. However, relationships between diversity, stability and ecosystems functions, like productivity, are still poorly understood. We have developed a generic resource competition model framework in which species assemblages co-evolve in the presence of a fluctuating environment. Changing the characteristics (variance and auto-correlation) of these environmental fluctuations leads to different levels of species diversity, biomass production and stability in the modelled communities. Analysis of simulation results for a range of different environments reveals emergent relationships between diversity, productivity and stability. Although the model is built on very simple and generic assumptions, our results agree with and unify a number of seemingly disparate aspects of the ecology literature such as the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, the hump-backed diversityproductivity curve, species-energy theory and biodiversity-ecosystem functioning theory.

average especies richness in biomass productionspacer
Diversity (here, average species richness) is maximised at intermediate levels of biomass production (left) and stability (centre), consistent with the well-known humpbacked diversity-productivity relationship and the intermediate disturbance hypothesis respectively. In accordance with species-energy theory, diversity (species richness) increases as the resource supply rate increases.

Further details from: Glenn Marion and Stephen Catterall

Article date 2013

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Statistical Genomics and Bioinformatics

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