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Vadim Karatayev (University of Guelph): Species heterogeneity can reduce the potential for alternative stable states in food webs

13 October 2020 @ 17:00 - 18:00 BST

Abstract. Can alternative stable states arise when food webs dissipate feedbacks across many species in diverse systems like coral reefs? Although consumer loss often characterizes degraded ecological states, food web resilience theory predominantly focuses on specific systems and few-species models. After developing a generalized model of consumer collapse, we show that alternative stable states dominated by either consumer or resource guilds can arise when consumer species improve conditions in the same way, for instance when different herbivore species promote habitat-forming corals by limiting the total cover of macroalgae. Conversely, specialized feedbacks where size refugia or group defense make individual resource species inedible are less likely to drive many-species alternative stable states because losing the most vulnerable consumers cascades into a guild-wide collapse.

Vadim Karatayev, Marissa Baskett, Egbert van Nes, Marten Scheffer

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13 October 2020
17:00 - 18:00 BST
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