Ulrich Brose, Jennifer Dunne, Neo Martinez, Richard Williams

Paper #: 04-07-021

We discuss theoretical aspects of the broader food-web research agenda, particularly the background and various approaches used for modeling food-web dynamics in abstract systems with more than two taxa. Much of this type of modeling has oriented itself around the classic and enduring complexity-stability debate in ecology, especially those aspects which relate to the theoretical and associated empirical food-web research into the relationships between ecosystem complexity, often characterized as number of links and/or number of species in a community, and various aspects of ecosystem stability. “Stability” in ecology is a catch-all term that has been variously defined to reflect aspects of population and/or system equilibrium, persistence, resilience, resistance, and robustness. In some cases stability refers to the outcome of internal dynamics while in other cases it reflects the response of a population or system to a perturbation. The very notion of what is a plausible definition of ecosystem stability has driven some of the fundamental shifts in modeling methodology that will be described.