Structural asymmetry in biotic interactions as a tool to understand and forecast ecological persistence [article]

Alfonso Allen-Perkins, David Garcia-Callejas, Ignasi Bartomeus, Oscar Godoy
2023 bioRxiv   pre-print
A universal feature of ecological systems is that species do not interact with others with the same sign and strength. Yet, the consequences of this asymmetry in biotic interactions for the persistence (i.e. long-term viability) of individual species and entire communities remains unclear. To address this gap of knowledge, we conceptualize in this perspective these ecological observations by implementing a set of tools into the field of structural stability. By quantifying independently the
more » ... from the shape of the so-called feasibility domain, we show that it is possible to obtain simultaneously an understanding of the opportunities for all species within a community to persist as well as the vulnerability of individual species to extinction under changing environmental conditions. We further demonstrate that these novel metrics carry also predictive value. Specifically, the shape-related metrics predict annual changes in species abundances during seven years in a Mediterranean grassland. Our approach, which is designed to be applied to any ecological system regardless of their number of species and type of interactions, shows that is possible to obtain both mechanistic and predictive information of ecological persistence across levels of organization, providing a clear link for a stronger integration of theoretical and empirical research.
doi:10.1101/2023.01.25.525558 fatcat:hgxsxrc4vfanli2ddchmiuwrgu