Nutrient dynamics and food-web stability

D. L. Deangelis, P. J. Mulholland, A. V. Palumbo, A. D. Steinman, M. A. Huston, J. W. Elwood

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

128 Scopus citations


Examines local stability, stability to large perturbations, resilience, structural stability, and persistence. Each of these types is discussed in terms of ≥1 characteristics of the nutrient fluxes in ecosystem: input fluxes, rates of loss and recycling per unit of standing stock, functional forms of fluxes between components, total nutrient stored at steady state, and temporal fluctuations in fluxes. By juxtaposing theoretical and empirical results for each type of stability, none can judge how well the 2 sets of results agree, eg a key principle relating nutrient effects to local stability, the paradox of enrichment, has a significant amount of empirical support. Strong evidence also exists for the idea that some systems have multiple domains of attraction and that sufficiently large perturbations to nutrients can cause relatively permanent changes of state. The theoretical prediction that slow additions of nutrients or low changes in input rate can, under certain conditions, generate large changes, or catastrophes in the system, also seems confirmed in some systems. Information is available to substantiate the idea that resilience may depend on nutrient inputs in some natural systems. Experimental work has corroborated the theoretical idea that temporal variations in nutrient inputs can lead to persistence of several competing populations that could not coexist otherwise. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnnual review of ecology and systematics. Vol. 20
EditorsR.F. Johnston
PublisherAnnual Reviews Inc.
Number of pages25
StatePublished - Dec 1 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Nutrient dynamics and food-web stability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this