Deng, Jie; Washington Taylor; Simon A. Levin and Serguei Saavedra

The dynamics of ecological communities in nature are typically characterized by probabilistic processes involving invasion dynamics. Because of technical challenges, however, the majority of theoretical and experimental studies have focused on coexistence dynamics. Therefore, it has become central to understand the extent to which coexistence outcomes can be used to predict analogous invasion outcomes relevant to systems in nature. Here, we study the limits to this predictability under a geometric and probabilistic Lotka-Volterra framework. We show that while individual survival probability in coexistence dynamics can be fairly closely translated into invader colonization probability in invasion dynamics, the translation is less precise between community persistence and community augmentation, and worse between exclusion probability and replacement probability. These results provide a guiding and testable theoretical framework regarding the translatability of outcomes between coexistence and invasion outcomes when communities are represented by Lotka-Volterra dynamics under environmental uncertainty.