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Stability and Variability in Competitive Communities

Science  15 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5439, pp. 542-544
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5439.542

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Abstract

Long-term variability in the abundance of populations depends on the sensitivity of species to environmental fluctuations and the amplification of environmental fluctuations by interactions among species. Although competitive interactions and species number may have diverse effects on variability measured at the individual species level, a combination of theoretical analyses shows that these factors have no effect on variability measured at the community level. Therefore, biodiversity may increase community stability by promoting diversity among species in their responses to environmental fluctuations, but increasing the number and strength of competitive interactions has little effect.

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