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J Theor Biol. 2001 Sep 21;212(2):223-35.

Global stability, local stability and permanence in model food webs.

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Laboratory of Populations, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021-6399, USA.


The dynamical theory of food webs has been based typically on local stability analysis. The relevance of local stability to food web properties has been questioned because local stability holds only in the immediate vicinity of the equilibrium and provides no information about the size of the basin of attraction. Local stability does not guarantee persistence of food webs in stochastic environments. Moreover, local stability excludes more complex dynamics such as periodic and chaotic behaviors, which may allow persistence. Global stability and permanence could be better criteria of community persistence. Our simulation analysis suggests that these three stability measures are qualitatively consistent in that all three predict decreasing stability with increasing complexity. Some new predictions on how stability depends on food web configurations are generated here: a consumer-victim link has a smaller effect on the probabilities of stability, as measured by all three stability criteria, than a pair of recipient-controlled and donor-controlled links; a recipient-controlled link has a larger effect on the probabilities of local stability and permanence than a donor-controlled link, while they have the same effect on the probability of global stability; food webs with equal proportions of donor-controlled and recipient-controlled links are less stable than those with different proportions.

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