Does predator interference cause alternative stable states in multispecies communities?

J. Feng, V. Dakos, E.H. van Nes

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Whereas it is well known that simple ecological mechanisms may promote stability in simple species models, their consequences for stability and resilience in multispecies communities are largely unexplored. Here, we studied the effect of predator interference on the occurrence of alternative attractors and complex dynamics in randomly constructed multispecies predator-prey communities. We studied three types of interference: random interference ("asymmetric"), random interference but symmetrical between pairs of predators ("symmetric"), and interference among only the same species ("conspecific"). In all cases predator interference increased the average number of alternative attractors, whereas at the same time it reduced the emergence of oscillatory or chaotic dynamics. Our findings demonstrate a contrasting effect of predator interference on the stability of a community: on the one hand it reduces cycles and chaos in the dynamics, on the other hand predator interference increases the likelihood that communities may undergo critical transitions between multiple stable states.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-176
JournalTheoretical Population Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • mutual interference
  • marine ecosystems
  • shallow lakes
  • regime shifts
  • thresholds
  • enrichment
  • paradox
  • stabilization
  • resilience
  • stability


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