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Leroux S.J.,McGill University | Leroux S.J.,University of Ottawa | Loreau M.,McGill University | Loreau M.,Center for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling
Ecosystems | Year: 2012

Temporally variable and reciprocal subsidies between ecosystems are ubiquitous. These spatial flows can generate a suite of direct and indirect effects in local and meta-ecosystems. The focus of most subsidy research, however, has been on the response of consumers in recipient ecosystems to constant subsidies over very short or very long time scales. We derive a meta-ecosystem model to explicitly consider the dynamic feedbacks between local ecosystems coupled through reciprocal pulsed subsidies. We predict oscillating reinforcing and dampening effects of reciprocal pulsed herbivore flows. Maximum reinforcing effects between reciprocal pulsed herbivore flows occur when these flows are in phase with the dynamics of neighboring predators. This prediction is robust to a range of pulse quantities and frequencies. Reciprocal pulsed herbivore subsidies lead to spatial and temporal variability in the strength of trophic cascades in local and meta-ecosystems but these cascading effects are the strongest when reciprocal pulsed subsidies are temporally concentrated. When predators demonstrate a behavioral response to prey abundance, reciprocal pulsed subsidies dampen the strength of local trophic cascades but lead to strong trophic cascades across local ecosystems. The timing of reciprocal pulsed subsidies is a critical component that determines the cascading effects of spatial flows. We show that spatial and temporal variabilities in resources and consumers can have a significant influence on the strength of cascading trophic interactions; therefore, our ability to detect and understand trophic cascades may depend on the scale of inquiry of ecological studies. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. Source


Isbell F.,University of Minnesota | Loreau M.,Center for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling
Ecology and Society | Year: 2014

Humans influence and depend on natural systems worldwide, creating complex societal-ecological feedbacks that make it difficult to assess the long-term sustainability of contemporary human activities. We use ecological niche theory to consider the shortterm (transient) and long-term (equilibrium) effects of improvements in health, agriculture, or efficiency on the abundances of humans, our plant and animal resources, and our natural enemies. We also consider special cases of our model where humans shift to a completely vegetarian diet, or completely eradicate natural enemies. We find that although combinations of health, agriculture, and efficiency improvements tend to support more people and plant resources, they also result in more natural enemies and fewer animal resources. Considering each of these improvements separately reveals that they lead to different, and sometimes opposing, long-term effects. For example, health improvements can reduce pathogen abundances and make it difficult to sustain livestock production, whereas agricultural improvements tend to counterbalance these effects. Our exploratory analysis of a deliberately simple model elucidates trade-offs and feedbacks that could arise from the cascading effects of human activities. © 2014 by the author(s). Source


Marleau J.N.,McGill University | Guichard F.,McGill University | Loreau M.,Center for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2014

The addition of spatial structure to ecological concepts and theories has spurred integration between sub-disciplines within ecology, including community and ecosystem ecology. However, the complexity of spatial models limits their implementation to idealized, regular landscapes. We present a model meta-ecosystem with finite and irregular spatial structure consisting of local nutrient-autotrophs-herbivores ecosystems connected through spatial flows of materials and organisms. We study the effect of spatial flows on stability and ecosystem functions, and provide simple metrics of connectivity that can predict these effects. Our results show that high rates of nutrient and herbivore movement can destabilize local ecosystem dynamics, leading to spatially heterogeneous equilibria or oscillations across the meta-ecosystem, with generally increased meta-ecosystem primary and secondary production. However, the onset and the spatial scale of these emergent dynamics depend heavily on the spatial structure of the meta-ecosystem and on the relative movement rate of the autotrophs. We show how this strong dependence on finite spatial structure eludes commonly used metrics of connectivity, but can be predicted by the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of the connectivity matrix that describe the spatial structure and scale. Our study indicates the need to consider finite-size ecosystems in meta-ecosystem theory. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved. Source


Marleau J.N.,McGill University | Marleau J.N.,Center for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2014

The addition of spatial structure to ecological concepts and theories has spurred integration between sub-disciplines within ecology, including community and ecosystem ecology. However, the complexity of spatial models limits their implementation to idealized, regular landscapes. We present a model meta-ecosystem with finite and irregular spatial structure consisting of local nutrient-autotrophs-herbivores ecosystems connected through spatial flows of materials and organisms. We study the effect of spatial flows on stability and ecosystem functions, and provide simple metrics of connectivity that can predict these effects. Our results show that high rates of nutrient and herbivore movement can destabilize local ecosystem dynamics, leading to spatially heterogeneous equilibria or oscillations across the meta-ecosystem, with generally increased meta-ecosystem primary and secondary production. However, the onset and the spatial scale of these emergent dynamics depend heavily on the spatial structure of the meta-ecosystem and on the relative movement rate of the autotrophs. We show how this strong dependence on finite spatial structure eludes commonly used metrics of connectivity, but can be predicted by the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of the connectivity matrix that describe the spatial structure and scale. Our study indicates the need to consider finite-size ecosystems in meta-ecosystem theory. Source


Marleau J.N.,McGill University | Guichard F.,McGill University | Loreau M.,Center for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling
Ecology Letters | Year: 2015

Evidence that ecosystems and primary producers are limited in their productivity by multiple nutrients has caused the traditional nutrient limitation framework to include multiple limiting nutrients. The models built to mimic these responses have invoked local mechanisms at the level of the primary producers. In this paper, we explore an alternative explanation for the emergence of co-limitation by developing a simple, stoichiometrically explicit meta-ecosystem model with two limiting nutrients, autotrophs and herbivores. Our results show that differences in movement rates for the nutrients, autotrophs and herbivores can allow for nutrient co-limitation in biomass response to emerge despite no local mechanisms of nutrient co-limitation. Furthermore, our results provide an explanation to why autotrophs show positive growth responses to nutrients despite 'nominal' top-down control by herbivores. These results suggest that spatial processes can be mechanisms for nutrient co-limitation at local and regional scales, and can help explain anomalous results in the co-limitation literature. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS. Source

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