Title

Environmental Fluctuations Induce Scale-Dependent Compensation and Increase Stability in Plankton Ecosystems

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2008

Publication Title

Ecology

Volume Number

89

Issue Number

11

DOI

10.1890/07-1652.1

Abstract

The temporal stability of aggregate community and ecosystem properties is influenced by the variability of component populations, the interactions among populations, and the influence of environmental fluctuations on populations. Environmental fluctuations that enhance population variability are generally expected to destabilize community and ecosystem properties, but this will depend on the degree to which populations are synchronized in their dynamics. Here we use seminatural experimental ponds to show that reduced synchrony among zooplankton taxa increases the temporal stability of zooplankton density, abundance, and ecosystem productivity in fluctuating environments. However, asynchrony only occurs at long timescales (∼80‐day periods) and under recurring environmental perturbations. At shorter timescales (∼10‐day periods) and in constant environments, synchronous dynamics dominate. Our findings support recent theory indicating that compensatory dynamics can stabilize communities and ecosystems. They further indicate that environmental fluctuations can enhance the likelihood of long‐period asynchrony and thus stabilize community and ecosystem properties despite their short term destabilizing effects.

ISSN

1939-9170

First Page

3204

Last Page

3214

Link Out URL

https://doi.org/10.1890/07-1652.1

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