One of the most interesting and vexing problems in ecology is how distinctly different communities of plants and animals can occur in the same ecosystem. The theory of these systems, known as multiple stable states, is well understood, but whether multiple stable states actually exist in nature has remained a hotly debated subject.
Multiple Stable States in Natural Ecosystems provides a broad and synthetic critique of recent advances in theory and new experimental evidence. Modern models of systems with multiple stable states are placed in historical context. Current theories are covered in a rigorous fashion with the specific goal of identifying testable predictions about multiple stable states. The book provides a more synthetic, more critical, and broader analysis of multiple stable states in natural
ecosystems than any previous review. By making the theory more transparent and the analysis of the evidence more comparative, the book broadens the discussion about multiple stable states, leading to a more general consideration of the interplay between theory and experiment in community ecology and environmental
This accessible research monograph will be suitable for graduate students taking courses in community ecology, theoretical ecology, and restoration ecology. It will also be a valuable reference for professional ecologists and environmental managers requiring a concise overview of the topic.
Peter Petraitis is a Professor of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania and an ecologist known for his work in rocky intertidal shores in Maine where he has been working since 1981. He also works in Mongolia studying the impacts of climate change and nomadic herding on steppe grasslands in Lake Hoevsgoel National Park. Professor Petraitis received his Ph.D. in ecology from Stony Brook University in 1979 and was a postdoctoral scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution before joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania.
1. Introduction ; 2. What theory actually tells us about multiple stable states ; 3. Detection of multiple stable states ; 4. Experimental evidence ; 5. Catastrophe theory ; 6. Hallmarks of catastrophes ; 7. Other modeling approaches ; 8. Four common misconceptions ; 9. Using temporal and spatial patterns as evidence ; 10. Where do we go from here?