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Stabilizing factors in spatially structured food webs
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Theoretical Biology . Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Ecology . (Spatiotemporal Biology)
2009 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 40 credits / 60 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Ecological models have problems showing the positive relationship between diversity and stability found in nature. Theory states that complex food webs have high extinction risks and low stability. However, persistent food webs found in nature are large and complex containing many interconnections between species. There are many possible mechanisms enabling persistent food webs such as; complex interaction patterns, asynchronous fluctuations of species densities, environmental fluctuations and spatial distribution. These factors have not been used in classical models. In this study, coloured environmental 1/f noise and dispersal between subpopulations were incorporated into a diamond shaped food web based on a model by Vasseur and Fox 2007. Contradictions between theoretical and empirical results regarding food webs can be resolved by detailed analyses of models, withholding stabilizing mechanisms. Weak environmental 1/f noise generated an increased coefficient of stability but the stabilizing effect of noise can be questioned because of a decreased mean food web biomass and reduced stabilizing effect when reddened. However, detailed studies of the food web revealed that noise can redistribute density proportions between species, evading lowest species density and thereby increase food web resistance to demographic stochasticity and catastrophes. Noise induced density proportion shifts imply that large population sizes are no insurance towards future increase in environmental variance. Synchrony of species environmental responses and dispersal between subpopulations can both have major influences on stability and extinction risk of smaller food webs indicating that spatial structure could be one of the dominating factors stabilizing complex food webs found in nature.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. , 25 p.
Keyword [en]
Dispersal, extinction risk, food web, metapopulation, noise, spatial distribution, stability, synchrony.
National Category
Ecology Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-18657ISRN: LiTH-IFM-Ex--09/2127--SEOAI: diva2:221218
2009-05-29, Schrödinger, IFM Linköpings universitet, SE-581 83 Linköping, Sweden, Linköping, 09:30 (English)
Available from: 2009-06-10 Created: 2009-06-03 Last updated: 2009-06-10Bibliographically approved

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