A Stochastic Approach to Modeling the Effect of Biodiversity on Ecological Resilience

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Authors
Jarman, Anna
St. Marie, Olivia
Szpilka, Christopher
Advisor
Cline, Kelly
Editor
Date of Issue
2023-04-28
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Citation
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Title
A Stochastic Approach to Modeling the Effect of Biodiversity on Ecological Resilience
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Presentation
Description
Abstract
The biodiversity of plants in an ecosystem enhances that ecosystem's ability to survive irregular weather patterns. In other words, an area with many different plant species will be more resistant to prolonged drought than an area with only a few different species. This phenomenon is commonly explained by the “insurance hypothesis,” which postulates that an ecosystem with greater biodiversity will be less volatile than its individual components due to statistical averaging. In this research study, we use Lotka-Volterra dynamics to model a single-trophic level plant ecosystem with both competitive and facilitative interactions between species. The facilitative interactions result in compensatory growth effects, where as the population of one species declines, another species in the same functional group increases its growth rate to compensate. We then apply drought conditions to the model, first implementing a stochastic simulation to determine the model parameters, then running a large number of trials for each number of species. Our findings show that as the number of species increases, the drought resilience of the system also increases asymptotically. These results are in accordance with experimental findings, supporting the insurance hypothesis.
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Degree Awarded
Semester
Spring
Department
Mathematics