An investigation into the relationship between the stability of a biological community and both community complexity and environmental heterogeneity.

Larter, Richard John (1984). An investigation into the relationship between the stability of a biological community and both community complexity and environmental heterogeneity. The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f94a

Abstract

The aim of this dissertation is to study two aspects of the stability properties of a biological community. These are firstly their relationship with the structural complexity of the community and secondly the effect of spatial heterogeneity of the environment in which the community lives.

Chapter 1 introduces the subject of population dynamics and discusses the reasons for using mathematical models to study it .

The first part of Chapter 2 defines the terminology, especially the meaning of stability. The second part considers the biological evidence for a relationship between stability and complexity while the third part investigates the stability properties of mathematical models of communities of varying complexities. It is concluded that there is no general relationship, but that the more complex a community the more unlikely it is to be stable.

The first part of Chapter 3 discusses the biological evidence for the importance of the effect of spatial heterogeneity on stability and proposes a definition of this term. The second part describes different ways of modelling community population dynamics in spatially heterogeneous environments. It is concluded that spatial heterogeneity is not likely to make a community less stable.

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