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  • 1.
    Jonsson, Tomas
    et al.
    University of Skövde, The Systems Biology Research Centre. University of Skövde, School of Life Sciences.
    Karlsson, Patrik
    University of Skövde, The Systems Biology Research Centre.
    Jonsson, Annie
    University of Skövde, The Systems Biology Research Centre. University of Skövde, School of Life Sciences.
    Trophic interactions affect the population dynamics and risk of extinction of basal species in food webs2010In: Ecological Complexity: An International Journal on Biocomplexity in the Environment and Theoretical Ecology, ISSN 1476-945X, E-ISSN 1476-9840, Vol. 7, no 1, p. 60-68Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper addresses effects of trophic complexity on basal species, in a Lotka–Volterra model with stochasticity. We use simple food web modules, with three trophic levels, and expose every species to random environmental stochasticity and analyze (1) the effect of the position of strong trophic interactions on temporal fluctuations in basal species’ abundances and (2) the relationship between fluctuation patterns and extinction risk. First, the numerical simulations showed that basal species do not simply track the environment, i.e. species dynamics do not simply mirror the characteristics of the applied environmental stochasticity. Second, the extinction risk of species was related to the fluctuation patterns of the species.

    More specifically, we show (i) that despite being forced by random stochasticity without temporal autocorrelation (i.e. white noise), there is significant temporal autocorrelation in the time series of all basal species’ abundances (i.e. the spectra of basal species are red-shifted), (ii) the degree of temporal autocorrelation in basal species time series is affected by food web structure and (iii) the degree of temporal autocorrelation tend to be correlated to the extinction risks of basal species.

    Our results emphasize the role of food web structure and species interactions in modifying the response of species to environmental variability. To shed some light on the mechanisms we compare the observed pattern in abundances of basal species with analytically predicted patterns and show that the change in the predicted pattern due to the addition of strong trophic interactions is correlated to the extinction risk of the basal species. We conclude that much remain to be understood about the mechanisms behind the interaction among environmental variability, species interactions, population dynamics and vulnerability before we quantitatively can predict, for example, effects of climate change on species and ecological communities. Here, however, we point out a new possible approach for identifying species that are vulnerable to environmental stochasticity by checking the degree of temporal autocorrelation in the time series of species. Increased autocorrelation in population fluctuations can be an indication of increased extinction risk.

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