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Stabilization of large generalized Lotka-Volterra foodwebs by evolutionary feedback

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Original languageEnglish
Article number158701
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2004


Conventional ecological models show that complexity destabilizes foodwebs, suggesting that foodwebs should have neither large numbers of species nor a large number of interactions. However, in nature the opposite appears to be the case. Here we show that if the interactions between species are allowed to evolve within a generalized Lotka-Volterra model such stabilizing feedbacks and weak interactions emerge automatically. Moreover, we show that trophic levels also emerge spontaneously from the evolutionary approach, and the efficiency of the unperturbed ecosystem increases with time. The key to stability in large foodwebs appears to arise not from complexity per se but from evolution at the level of the ecosystem which favors stabilizing (negative) feedbacks.

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