Weitz Group @ Georgia Tech Theoretical Ecology and Quantitative Biology

Scale-dependence of resource-biodiversity relationships

TitleScale-dependence of resource-biodiversity relationships
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsWeitz JS, Rothman DH
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Date PublishedNOV 21

The functional relationship between resource availability and species richness is addressed at different spatial scales. We analyse the smaller, community, scale by using a multi-species contact process coupled to a heterogeneous landscape, i.e. a stochastic spatial model of individual behavior in a system with limited resources. Using percolation theory, the theory of competitive exclusion processes, and the results of Monte Carlo simulations we show that a unimodal resource-species relationship may be understood as a tradeoff between the availability and connectivity of resource patches. We then pose the question of how resource-species relationships may be scaled up to the larger, regional, level and discuss the theoretical basis for differences in behavior at different scales. Regional ecosystems are modeled as statistical aggregates of dynamically driven small-scale ecosystems. Observing a transition from a unimodal relationship at small scales to a monotonically increasing relationship at large scales is shown to be contingent on the presence of a resource-dependent species pool. Finally, we confirm our theoretical prediction of a transition via Monte Carlo simulations of regional landscapes and discuss the potential complicating effects of spatial correlations in the distribution of both resources and species. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.