Fundacion Canaria Rafael Clavijo

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain

Fundacion Canaria Rafael Clavijo

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain

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Rodriguez R.A.,Fundacion Canaria Rafael Clavijo | Herrera A.M.,Fundacion Canaria Rafael Clavijo | Delgado J.D.,Pablo De Olavide University | Otto R.,University of La Laguna | And 10 more authors.
Ecological Modelling | Year: 2013

Production-diversity patterns lack a single explanation fully integrated in theoretical ecology. An ecological state equation has recently been found for ruderal vegetation. We studied 1649 plots from twenty-nine ecological assemblages and analyzed the relationship between diversity, biomass and dispersal looking for a pattern across these ecosystems. We found that high biomass and low dispersal values were significantly associated with high diversity plots under stationary conditions, and vice versa, involving a biomass-dispersal trade-off that is coherent with well-established ecological principles. Therefore, energy per plot, estimated as one half of the product of mean individual biomass and mean square dispersal multiplied by the number of individuals per plot, only reaches its maximum at intermediate levels of diversity. This explains the well-known humped relationship between production and diversity. We also explore why the rest of the diversity-production patterns can be explained starting from disruptions of this basic pattern. Simultaneously, the product of diversity, biomass and square dispersal is statistically equal to the ecological equivalent of the Boltzmann's constant included in the ecological state equation that remains valid for all the assemblages explored due to scale variations in the value of the above-mentioned constant. Biomass-dispersal trade-off resembles the principle of equipartition of energy from the kinetic theory of gases but in a characteristic way, because the alternative micro-associations of dispersal-biomass in function of species diversity are not randomly distributed as it happens with the combinations of molecular mass and velocity in a mixture of gases. Therefore, this distinctive ecological feature should be assumed as one of the main pro-functional gradients or thermodynamic constraints to avoid chaos and ecological degradation under stationary conditions. Hence, biomass-dispersal trade-off explains production-diversity patterns and the ecological state equation in simultaneous agreement with conventional ecology and physics. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Rodriguez R.A.,Fundacion Canaria Rafael Clavijo | Delgado J.D.,Pablo De Olavide University | Herrera A.M.,Fundacion Canaria Rafael Clavijo | Navarro R.M.,University of Cordoba, Spain | And 2 more authors.
Ecological Modelling | Year: 2013

Species coexistence has been a fundamental issue to understand ecosystem functioning since the beginnings of ecology as a science. The search of a reliable and all-encompassing explanation for this issue has become a complex goal with several apparently opposing trends. On the other side, seemingly unconnected with species coexistence, an ecological state equation based on the inverse correlation between an indicator of dispersal that fits gamma distribution and species diversity has been recently developed. This article explores two factors, whose effects are inconspicuous in such an equation at the first sight, that are used to develop an alternative general theoretical background in order to provide a better understanding of species coexistence. Our main outcomes are: (i) the fit of dispersal and diversity values to gamma distribution is an important factor that promotes species coexistence mainly due to the right-skewed character of gamma distribution; (ii) the opposite correlation between species diversity and dispersal implies that any increase of diversity is equivalent to a route of "ecological cooling" whose maximum limit should be constrained by the influence of the third law of thermodynamics; this is in agreement with the well-known asymptotic trend of diversity values in space and time; (iii) there are plausible empirical and theoretical ways to apply physical principles to explain important ecological processes; (iv) the gap between theoretical and empirical ecology in those cases where species diversity is paradoxically high could be narrowed by a wave model of species coexistence based on the concurrency of local equilibrium states. In such a model, competitive exclusion has a limited but indispensable role in harmonious coexistence with functional redundancy. We analyze several literature references as well as ecological and evolutionary examples that support our approach, reinforcing the meaning equivalence between important physical and ecological principles. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Rodriguez R.A.,Fundacion Canaria Rafael Clavijo | Herrera A.M.,Fundacion Canaria Rafael Clavijo | Otto R.,University of La Laguna | Delgado J.D.,Pablo De Olavide University | And 2 more authors.
Ecological Modelling | Year: 2012

The direct equivalence between ecology and thermodynamics has not been attained despite accepted thermodynamic features of the ecosystem. This article explores the homeomorphism between ecology and statistical mechanics by analysis of ruderal vegetation. In conventional thermostatistical algorithm, the pro-kinetic effect of temperature on molecules was replaced by the anti-kinetic effect of species diversity on biological individuals. The existence of an ecological equivalent of the thermodynamic Boltzmann constant was empirically verified. From the relationship of this constant with biocenological variables, we derived a probable ecological equation of state under stationary and quasi-stationary conditions. This equation of state is homeomorphic with regard to the ideal gas state equation, and it is useful to infer the value of some biocenological parameters whose direct measurement is difficult, as biomass, energy and dispersal. According to these results, ecosystem assessment from conventional thermostatistics is plausible and empirically verifiable. This approach offers useful analytical tools for the conservation and restoration of ecosystems. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

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