Community Ecology, Scale, and the Instability of the Stability Concept

Abstract
We examine the evolution of the concept of stability in community ecology, arguing that biologists have moved from an emphasis on biotic communities characterized by static balance, to one of dynamic balance (returning to equilibrium after perturbation), to the current concept of stability as persistence. Using Wimsatt's (1987) analysis of how false models can often lead to better ones, we argue that failed attempts to link complexity with stability have significant heuristic value for community ecologists. Nevertheless, we argue that, (A) because there is no common characteristic that stability terms presuppose, community ecology might be better served by abandoning the concept of stability and by employing instead specific terms such as 'persistence', 'resistance', and 'variability'. (B) The current emphasis (of stability terms) on persistence of species provides little basis for explaining possible mechanisms that might account for persistence.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 29,841
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Added to PP index
2011-05-29

Total downloads
15 ( #345,349 of 2,210,412 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #387,753 of 2,210,412 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature