Positive feedback and ecosystem organization

D. L. Deangelis, W. M. Post

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

13 Scopus citations


Most of the theory developed by ecologists in relation to feedback has focused on negative feedback, stressing its role as a stabilising or homeostatic mechanism. An equally important aspect of feedback is its role - usually as reinforcement through positive feedback - in organising and altering ecological systems. Mutualisms, for example, may be amplified through positive feedback. Positive feedback is ubiquitous in ecological systems, influencing food web and community structure, temporal behaviour and spatial pattern. In simple mathematical models of termite colonies, for instance, positive feedback reinforces initial colony development at a particular spatial location, and suppresses nearby colonies. In plant communities, positive feedback between competitors sharpens spatial separation between plant types along environmental gradients. -P.J.Jarvis

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheoretical studies of ecosystems
EditorsM. Higashi, T.P. Burns
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages24
StatePublished - Dec 1 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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