Measuring the stability of ecological communities



Virginia Dominguez Garcia
University of Montpellier

17. January 2021, 17:00
WW8, Zoom, Fürth


Understanding the stability of ecological communities is a matter of increasing importance in the context of global environmental change. Yet it has proved to be a challenging task. Different metrics are used to assess the stability of ecological systems, and the choice of one metric over another may result in conflicting conclusions. Although each of the multitude of metrics is useful for answering a specific question about stability, the relationship among metrics is poorly understood. Such lack of understanding prevents scientists from developing a unified concept of stability. Instead, by investigating these relationships we can unveil how many dimensions of stability there are (i.e., in how many independent components stability metrics can be grouped), which should help build a more comprehensive concept of stability. Here we simultaneously measured 27 stability metrics frequently used in ecological studies. Our approach is based on dynamical simulations of multispecies trophic communities under different perturbation scenarios. Mapping the relationships between the metrics revealed that they can be lumped into 3 main groups of relatively independent stability components: early response to pulse, sensitivities to press, and distance to thresh old. Selecting metrics from each of these groups allows a more accurate and comprehensive quantification of the overall stability of ecological communities. These results contribute to improving our understanding and assessment of stability in ecological communities. .