Higher-order interactions stabilize dynamics in competitive network models
Jacopo Grilli, György Barabás, Matthew J. Michalska-Smith, Stefano Allesina
Nature 548, 210–213 (10 August 2017)
There’s no PDF available, but this is too good not to include here.
Reef-oriented microbial communities in the wild are large and stable.
Read that twice and then read on to the quote from the article. 🙂
The inclusion of higher-order interactions in competitive network models stabilizes dynamics, making species coexistence robust to the perturbation of both population abundance and parameter values. We show that higher-order interactions have strong effects in models of closed ecological communities, as well as of open communities in which new species are constantly introduced.
The ideas they modeled, in a nutshell, come down to these two sides:
- Small ecological communities apparently tend to be unstable in the long term.
- Large ecological communities apparently tend to be stable due to the influence one species can have on the interaction between a second and third species.
The result when enough of these indirect relationships exist is that one species doesn’t out-grow or out-compete the others. All are kept in check – within some kind of order or balance.
Aquarium reef-oriented communities in our modern era are more and more often grown out from a very small sample of microbial communities.
Most of the troubles that someone new to the hobby goes through relate to this kind of instability.
When live rock is used, we greatly enhance the ecological stability of our tanks by introducing a wider range of microbes and other related critters.