The Mechanisms of Coexistence and Competitive Exclusion in Complex Plankton Ecosystem Models

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Title The Mechanisms of Coexistence and Competitive Exclusion in Complex Plankton Ecosystem Models
Author Cropp, Roger Allan; Norbury, John
Journal Name Ecosystems
Year Published 2012
Place of publication United States
Publisher Springer
Abstract The biodiversity of plankton ecosystems may no longer be a paradox, but the mechanisms that determine coexistence of explicit competitors in ecosystems remain a mystery. This is particularly so in ecosystem models, where competitive exclusion remains the dominant process. Climate and fisheries models require plankton ecosystem submodels that maintain competing plankton functional types extant, but coexistence can be reproduced in only a few 'just so' theoretical models. This limits our ability to predict the impacts of climate change and fisheries on ocean biota. We consider ecosystems of Kolmogorov form that conserve mass (CK systems). These systems describe a general class of ecosystem models that includes many theoretical and applied models. We develop heuristics that illuminate the key mechanisms that allow the coexistence of explicit competitors in these systems. These heuristics facilitate the identification of a large class of models with the structural property that all species coexist for all time. Our approach unifies many theoretical and applied models in a common biogeochemical framework, providing a powerful tool with the potential to generate new insights into the properties of complex ecosystems.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
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Copyright Statement Copyright 2012 Springer New York. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. The original publication is available at
Volume 15
Issue Number 2
Page from 200
Page to 212
ISSN 1432-9840
Date Accessioned 2011-12-19
Language en_US
Faculty Faculty of Science, Environment, Engineering and Technology
Subject Dynamical Systems in Applications
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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