The stability of multitrophic communities under habitat loss

Chris McWilliams, Miguel Lurgi, Jose M. Montoya, Alix Sauve, Daniel Montoya*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
211 Downloads (Pure)


Habitat loss (HL) affects species and their interactions, ultimately altering community dynamics. Yet, a challenge for community ecology is to understand how communities with multiple interaction types—hybrid communities—respond to HL prior to species extinctions. To this end, we develop a model to investigate the response of hybrid terrestrial communities to two types of HL: random and contiguous. Our model reveals changes in stability—temporal variability in population abundances—that are dependent on the spatial configuration of HL. Our findings highlight that habitat area determines the variability of populations via changes in the distribution of species interaction strengths. The divergent responses of communities to random and contiguous HL result from different constraints imposed on individuals’ mobility, impacting diversity and network structure in the random case, and destabilising communities by increasing interaction strength in the contiguous case. Analysis of intermediate HL suggests a gradual transition between the two extreme cases.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2322
Number of pages11
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2019


  • Ecosystem
  • Models, Biological
  • Population Dynamics
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis


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  • HPC (High Performance Computing) Facility

    Sadaf R Alam (Manager), Steven A Chapman (Manager), Polly E Eccleston (Other), Simon H Atack (Other) & D A G Williams (Manager)

    Facility/equipment: Facility

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