Scale-free extinction dynamics in spatially structured host–parasitoid systems. Killingback, T.; Blok, H. J. (.; and Doebeli, M. 241(4):745–750.
Scale-free extinction dynamics in spatially structured host–parasitoid systems [link]Paper  doi  abstract   bibtex   
Much of the work on extinction events has focused on external perturbations of ecosystems, such as climatic change, or anthropogenic factors. Extinction, however, can also be driven by endogenous factors, such as the ecological interactions between species in an ecosystem. Here we show that endogenously driven extinction events can have a scale-free distribution in simple spatially structured host–parasitoid systems. Due to the properties of this distribution there may be many such simple ecosystems that, although not strictly permanent, persist for arbitrarily long periods of time. We identify a critical phase transition in the parameter space of the host–parasitoid systems, and explain how this is related to the scale-free nature of the extinction process. Based on these results, we conjecture that scale-free extinction processes and critical phase transitions of the type we have found may be a characteristic feature of many spatially structured, multi-species ecosystems in nature. The necessary ingredient appears to be competition between species where the locally inferior type disperses faster in space. If this condition is satisfied then the eventual outcome depends subtly on the strength of local superiority of one species versus the dispersal rate of the other.
@article{killingback_scale-free_2006,
	title = {Scale-free extinction dynamics in spatially structured host–parasitoid systems},
	volume = {241},
	issn = {0022-5193},
	url = {http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022519306000129},
	doi = {10.1016/j.jtbi.2006.01.010},
	abstract = {Much of the work on extinction events has focused on external perturbations of ecosystems, such as climatic change, or anthropogenic factors. Extinction, however, can also be driven by endogenous factors, such as the ecological interactions between species in an ecosystem. Here we show that endogenously driven extinction events can have a scale-free distribution in simple spatially structured host–parasitoid systems. Due to the properties of this distribution there may be many such simple ecosystems that, although not strictly permanent, persist for arbitrarily long periods of time. We identify a critical phase transition in the parameter space of the host–parasitoid systems, and explain how this is related to the scale-free nature of the extinction process. Based on these results, we conjecture that scale-free extinction processes and critical phase transitions of the type we have found may be a characteristic feature of many spatially structured, multi-species ecosystems in nature. The necessary ingredient appears to be competition between species where the locally inferior type disperses faster in space. If this condition is satisfied then the eventual outcome depends subtly on the strength of local superiority of one species versus the dispersal rate of the other.},
	version = {1327},
	pages = {745--750},
	number = {4},
	journaltitle = {Journal of Theoretical Biology},
	author = {Killingback, Timothy and Blok, Hendrik J. (Rik) and Doebeli, Michael},
	urldate = {2012-02-20},
	date = {2006-08-21},
	keywords = {Biodiversity, Extinction dynamics, Predator–prey dynamics, Rik's work, Scale-free processes, Spatially structured ecosystems}
}
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