The stability of ecosystems and their functioning has been a core concern of ecology for decades. Questions of stability span many subdisciplines and both fundamental and applied topics, including species competition theory, food webs, conservation, agriculture, and fisheries exploitation. Historically, however, analyses of ecosystem stability have focused on local scales. For instance, empirical studies commonly analyze abundance time series for plants in small quadrats, and theory on biodiversity and stability has often focused on local mono- or multi-trophic dynamical interactions. But recent work has begun to scale up questions of stability in several respects, which form the foci of this symposium.
Two important types of scaling up are spatial and temporal. Classic biodiversity-ecosystem functioning experiments have focused on small spatial scales (~10 m2 or less), relatively short durations (25 generations or less), and annual measurements. But recent work shows how relationships between biodiversity and the stability of ecosystem functioning will change when measurements are made at larger spatial scales which are more relevant to ecosystem services. Likewise, emerging studies highlight differences in stability over a range of shorter (sub-annual) to longer (decadal) timescales. A third important type of scaling up is taxonomic. Classic empirical work focuses on mono-trophic datasets, e.g. plants. But many ecosystem functions emerge from the interplay of species across trophic levels. Much recent work has moved toward considering stability at not only the local population or community level but also at the metacommunity and trophic metacommunity levels. These enlargements of perspective are essential for understanding how ecosystem functioning and services will change in an altered world.
This symposium will represent some major strands of research that are part of these trends. Wang will discuss advances in our understanding of how biodiversity influences stability and how this relationship depends on spatial scale. Reuman will discuss how several aspects of the statistical structure of the synchrony of population fluctuations can alter aggregate stability. Rogers will describe an important case study of blue crab populations, which illustrates how complex interactions between the environment and local dynamics confer stability at large spatial scales. Hallett will focus on how spatial and trophic heterogeneity mediate stability across scales. These speakers represent a diversity of backgrounds, empirical, theoretical and hybrid approaches, marine and terrestrial realms, and diverse types of scaling-up.
Presenting Author: Daniel C. Reuman – University of Kansas
Presenting Author: Tanya Rogers – Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Co-author: Stephan B. Munch – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Author: Shaopeng Wang – Peking University
Presenting Author: Maowei Liang – University of Virginia
Presenting Author: Frederic Guichard, Guichard – McGill University
Co-author: Tianna Peller – Eawag
Co-author: Justin Marleau – McGill University