Reconciling cooperation, biodiversity and stability in complex ecological communities

Complexity Digest

Empirical evidences show that ecosystems with high biodiversity can persist in time even in the presence of few types of resources and are more stable than low biodiverse communities. This evidence is contrasted by the conventional mathematical modeling, which predicts that the presence of many species and/or cooperative interactions are detrimental for ecological stability and persistence. Here we propose a modelling framework for population dynamics, which also include indirect cooperative interactions mediated by other species (e.g. habitat modification). We show that in the large system size limit, any number of species can coexist and stability increases as the number of species grows, if mediated cooperation is present, even in presence of exploitative or harmful interactions (e.g. antibiotics). Our theoretical approach thus shows that appropriate models of mediated cooperation naturally lead to a solution of the long-standing question about complexity-stability paradox and on how highly biodiverse communities can coexist.

Source: www.nature.com

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