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The stability of ecosystems: a brief overview of the paradox of enrichment

Roy, S. ORCID: and Chattopadhyay, J. (2007) The stability of ecosystems: a brief overview of the paradox of enrichment. Journal of Biosciences, 32 (2). pp. 421-428. ISSN 0250-5991

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s12038-007-0040-1


In theory, enrichment of resource in a predator-prey model leads to destabilization of the system, thereby collapsing the trophic interaction, a phenomenon referred to as "the paradox of enrichment". After it was first proposed by Rosenzweig (1971), a number of subsequent studies were carried out on this dilemma over many decades. In this article, we review these theoretical and experimental works and give a brief overview of the proposed solutions to the paradox. The mechanisms that have been discussed are modifications of simple predator-prey models in the presence of prey that is inedible, invulnerable, unpalatable and toxic. Another class of mechanisms includes an incorporation of a ratio-dependent functional form, inducible defence of prey and density-dependent mortality of the predator. Moreover, we find a third set of explanations based on complex population dynamics including chaos in space and time. We conclude that, although any one of the various mechanisms proposed so far might potentially prevent destabilization of the predator-prey dynamics following enrichment, in nature different mechanisms may combine to cause stability, even when a system is enriched. The exact mechanisms, which may differ among systems, need to be disentangled through extensive field studies and laboratory experiments coupled with realistic theoretical models.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:36888
Publisher:Indian Academy of Sciences


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