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Equilibrium paradigm - – Ecological communities are...

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Equilibrium paradigm Equilibrium = stable state reached after succession ends This can sometimes be a dynamic or cyclical equilibrium (e.g., predator-prey cycles) Equilibrium paradigm dominated ecology for many decades, but is now very much out of favor among professional ecologists (though the prevailing view among environmentalists, in folk theories of "the balance of nature," etc.) (see Botkin 1990 for an accessible review) Postulates of the equilibrium paradigm: Ecological communities = highly integrated, consistent species composition Succession = predictable, transient process tending towards “climax” state Climax = stable, “natural” state of ecosystems Disturbances = harmful, “unnatural” Non-equilibrium paradigm Postulates of the non-equilibrium paradigm:
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Unformatted text preview: – Ecological communities are weakly integrated, with variable & historically contingent composition – Succession is a recurrent process, not just a short trip to climax or stability – In many ecosystems, succession is irregular or unpredictable, and system can "flip" into a new state unpredictably – Disturbance plays key role in ecological dynamics & community composition; many species and ecological communities would be unable to persist without a regular pattern of disturbances ("disturbance regime") Deciding whether equilibrium or disequilibrium dynamics best describes any particular case can be difficult, but ecologists mostly agree that ecosystems are far more complicated & unpredictable than portrayed in the old equilibrium paradigm...
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