16 May 2014
Mixotrophy the missing link to developing a synthesis of trophic interactions using an explicit consumer-resource approach
The classical separate treatments of competition and predation, and an inability to provide a sensible theoretical basis for mutualism, attests to the inability of traditional models to provide a synthesising framework to study trophic interactions, a fundamental component of ecology. Recent approaches to food web modelling have focused on consumer-resource interactions. We develop this approach to explicitly represent finite resources for each population and construct a rigorous unifying theoretical framework with Lotka-Volterra Conservative Normal (LVCN) systems. We show that mixotrophy, a ubiquitous trophic interaction in marine plankton, provides the key to developing a synthesis of the various ways of making a living. The LVCN framework also facilitates an explicit redefinition of facultative mutualism, illuminating the over-simplification of the traditional definition. We demonstrate a continuum between trophic interactions and show that populations can continuously and smoothly evolve through most population interactions without losing stable coexistence. This provides a theoretical basis consistent with the evolution of trophic interactions from autotrophy through mixotrophy/mutualism to heterotrophy.
- Mathematical Geoscience Seminar