Influence of Productivity on the Stability of Real and Model Ecosystems

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Science  13 Aug 1993:
Vol. 261, Issue 5123, pp. 906-908
DOI: 10.1126/science.261.5123.906


The lengths of food chains within ecosystems have been thought to be limited either by the productivity of the ecosystem or by the resilience of that ecosystem after perturbation. Models based on ecological energetics that follow the form of Lotka-Volterra equations and equations that include material (detritus) recycling show that productivity and resilience are inextricably interrelated. The models were initialized with data from 5-to 10-year studies of actual soil food webs. Estimates indicate that most ecological production worldwide is from ecosystems that are themselves sufficiently productive to recover from minor perturbations.