Equilibrium and nonequilibrium concepts in ecological models.

D. L. Deangelis, J. C. Waterhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

384 Scopus citations


Mathematical models and empirical studies have revealed 2 potentially disruptive influences on ecosystems: instabilities caused by nonlinear feedbacks and time-lags in the interactions of biological species, and stochastic forcings by a fluctuating environment. To counter feedback instabilities, theoreticians have considered: 1) functional interactions between species that act as stabilizers, 2) disturbance patterns that interrupt adverse feedback effects, and 3) the stabilizing effect of integrating small-spatial-scale systems into large landscapes. To decrease the influence of stochasticity, modelers have hypothesized, 4) compensatory mechanisms operating at low population densities, and 5) the moderating effect of spatial extent and heterogeneity. Modeling based on these ideas can be organized in a systematic way. The stable equilibrium state should not be viewed as a fundamental property of ecological systems, but as a property that can emerge asymptotically from extrapolation to sufficiently large spatial scales. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalEcological Monographs
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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