Local Structure and Stability of Model and Real World Ecosystems

David Newth, David Cornforth

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter


For over a century, the analysis of community food webs has been central to ecology. Community food webs describe the feeding relationships between species within an ecosystem. Over the past five years, many complex systems 'including community food webs' have been shown to exhibit similar global statistical properties (such as higher than expected degree of clustering) in the arrangement of their underlying components. Recent studies have attempted to go beyond these global features, and understand the local structural regularities specific to a given system. This is done by detecting nontrivial, recurring patterns of interconnections known as motifs. Theoretical studies on the complexity and stability of ecosystems generally concluded that model ecosystems tend to be unstable. However this is contradicted by empirical studies. Here we attempt to resolve this paradox by examining the stability of common motifs, and show that the most stable motifs are most frequently encountered in real ecosystems. The presences of these motifs could explain why complex ecosystems are stable and able to persist.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRecent Advances in Artificial Life
Subtitle of host publicationAdvances in Natural Computation - Vol. 3
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherWorld Scientific Publishing
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9812566155
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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