Species-rich ecosystems are vulnerable to cascading extinctions in an increasingly variable world (pages 858–874)
Linda Kaneryd, Charlotte Borrvall, Sofia Berg, Alva Curtsdotter, Anna Eklöf, Céline Hauzy, Tomas Jonsson, Peter Münger, Malin Setzer, Torbjörn Säterberg and Bo Ebenman
Article first published online: 29 MAR 2012 | DOI: 10.1002/ece3.218
Using a modeling approach we here explore how species richness affects the response of food webs to high levels of environmental variability. We find that the risk of extinction cascades increases with increasing species richness, especially when correlation among species in their response to environmental fluctuations is low. Initial extinctions of primary producer species unleash bottom-up extinction cascades, especially in webs with specialist consumers.