Species diversity and stability: Is there a general positive relationship?

Mathematical Biology Seminar
Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - 11:00am for 1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 006
Lin Jiang – School of Biological Sciences, Georgia Tech – lin.jiang@biology.gatech.edu
Bo Lin

The relationship between biodiversity and ecological stability has long interested ecologists. The ongoing biodiversity loss has led to the increasing concern that it may impact ecosystem functioning, including ecosystem stability. Both early conceptual ideas and recent theory suggest a positive relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem stability. While quite a number of empirical studies, particularly experiments that directly manipulated species diversity, support this hypothesis, exceptions are not uncommon. This raises the question of whether there is a general positive diversity-stability relationship.

Literature survey shows that species diversity may not necessarily be an important determinant of ecosystem stability in natural communities. While experiments controlling for other environmental variables often report that ecosystem stability increases with species diversity, these other environmental variables are often more important than species diversity in influencing ecosystem stability. Studies that account for these environmental covariates tend to find a lack of relationship between species diversity and ecosystem stability. An important goal of future studies is to elucidate mechanisms driving the variation in the importance of species diversity in regulating ecosystem stability.