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Symmetry breaking in ecological systems through different energy efficiencies of juveniles and adults
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
2013 (English)In: Ecology, ISSN 0012-9658, E-ISSN 1939-9170, Vol. 94, no 7, 1487-1498 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Ontogenetic development is a fundamental aspect of the life history of all organisms and has major effects on population and community dynamics. We postulate a general conceptual framework for understanding these effects and claim that two potential energetics bottlenecks at the level of the individual organismthe rate by which it develops and the rate by which it reproducesform a fundamental route to symmetry-breaking in ecological systems, leading to ontogenetic asymmetry in energetics. Unstructured ecological theory, which ignores ontogenetic development, corresponds to a limiting case only, in which mass-specific rates of biomass production through somatic growth and reproduction, and biomass loss through mortality, are independent of body size (ontogenetic symmetry). Ontogenetic symmetry results in development and reproduction being limited to the same extent by food density. In all other cases, symmetry-breaking occurs. Ontogenetic asymmetry results in increases in juvenile, adult, or even total biomass in response to mortality. At the community level, this gives rise to alternative stable states via predator-induced shifts in prey size distributions. Ontogenetic asymmetry furthermore leads to two distinct types of cycles in population dynamics, depending on whether development or reproduction is most energy limited. We discuss the mechanisms giving rise to these phenomena and the empirical support for them. We conclude that the concepts of ontogenetic symmetry and ontogenetic asymmetry form a novel and general organizing principle on which future ecological theory should be developed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 94, no 7, 1487-1498 p.
Keyword [en]
alternative stable states, biomass overcompensation, cohort cycles, food-dependent development, individual energetics, ontogenetic asymmetry, population size structure
National Category
Ecology Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-79257DOI: 10.1890/12-1883.1ISI: 000321618400007OAI: diva2:645681
Available from: 2013-09-05 Created: 2013-08-13 Last updated: 2013-09-05Bibliographically approved

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