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Nested species interactions promote feasibility over stability during the assembly of a pollinator community


Saavedra, Serguei; Rohr, Rudolf P; Olesen, Jens M; Bascompte, Jordi (2016). Nested species interactions promote feasibility over stability during the assembly of a pollinator community. Ecology and Evolution, 6(4):997-1007.

Abstract

The foundational concepts behind the persistence of ecological communities have been based on two ecological properties: dynamical stability and feasibility. The former is typically regarded as the capacity of a community to return to an original equilibrium state after a perturbation in species abundances and is usually linked to the strength of interspecific interactions. The latter is the capacity to sustain positive abundances on all its constituent species and is linked to both interspecific interactions and species demographic characteristics. Over the last 40 years, theoretical research in ecology has emphasized the search for conditions leading to the dynamical stability of ecological communities, while the conditions leading to feasibility have been overlooked. However, thus far, we have no evidence of whether species interactions are more conditioned by the community's need to be stable or feasible. Here, we introduce novel quantitative methods and use empirical data to investigate the consequences of species interactions on the dynamical stability and feasibility of mutualistic communities. First, we demonstrate that the more nested the species interactions in a community are, the lower the mutualistic strength that the community can tolerate without losing dynamical stability. Second, we show that high feasibility in a community can be reached either with high mutualistic strength or with highly nested species interactions. Third, we find that during the assembly process of a seasonal pollinator community located at The Zackenberg Research Station (northeastern Greenland), a high feasibility is reached through the nested species interactions established between newcomer and resident species. Our findings imply that nested mutualistic communities promote feasibility over stability, which may suggest that the former can be key for community persistence.

Abstract

The foundational concepts behind the persistence of ecological communities have been based on two ecological properties: dynamical stability and feasibility. The former is typically regarded as the capacity of a community to return to an original equilibrium state after a perturbation in species abundances and is usually linked to the strength of interspecific interactions. The latter is the capacity to sustain positive abundances on all its constituent species and is linked to both interspecific interactions and species demographic characteristics. Over the last 40 years, theoretical research in ecology has emphasized the search for conditions leading to the dynamical stability of ecological communities, while the conditions leading to feasibility have been overlooked. However, thus far, we have no evidence of whether species interactions are more conditioned by the community's need to be stable or feasible. Here, we introduce novel quantitative methods and use empirical data to investigate the consequences of species interactions on the dynamical stability and feasibility of mutualistic communities. First, we demonstrate that the more nested the species interactions in a community are, the lower the mutualistic strength that the community can tolerate without losing dynamical stability. Second, we show that high feasibility in a community can be reached either with high mutualistic strength or with highly nested species interactions. Third, we find that during the assembly process of a seasonal pollinator community located at The Zackenberg Research Station (northeastern Greenland), a high feasibility is reached through the nested species interactions established between newcomer and resident species. Our findings imply that nested mutualistic communities promote feasibility over stability, which may suggest that the former can be key for community persistence.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:February 2016
Deposited On:13 Feb 2017 07:31
Last Modified:02 Feb 2018 12:13
Publisher:Wiley Open Access
ISSN:2045-7758
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.1930
PubMed ID:26941941

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