Predator and prey underpin ecosystem stability

Interactions between predator and prey may provide stability for ecosystems, according to a new mathematical model.

The existing model, developed by Robert M. May, proposes that ecosystems with large numbers of species interacting are inherently unstable and vulnerable to changing weather and environmental conditions. Mays’s model doesn’t take interaction between species into account.

The new model, proposed by Stefano Allesin and Si Tang from the University of Chicago, takes species interaction into account, and finds that predator/prey relationship provides enough stability in an ecosystem to allow an almost infinite amount of species to coexist.

“When prey are high, predators increase and reduce the number of prey by predation. When predators are low, prey decrease and thus reduce the number of predators by starvation. These predator/prey relationships thereby promote stability in ecosystems and enable them to maintain large numbers of species,” says Allesina.

Read more at University of Chicago