Statistical Mechanics of Ecosystem Assembly Articles uri icon

publication date

  • October 2009

issue

  • 16

volume

  • 103

international standard serial number (ISSN)

  • 0031-9007

electronic international standard serial number (EISSN)

  • 1079-7114

abstract

  • We introduce a toy model of ecosystem assembly for which we are able to map out all assembly pathways generated by external invasions. The model allows us to display the whole phase space in the form of an assembly graph whose nodes are communities of species and whose directed links are transitions between them induced by invasions. We characterize the process as a finite Markov chain and prove that it exhibits a unique set of recurrent states (the end state of the process), which is therefore resistant to invasions. This also shows that the end state is independent of the assembly history. The model shares all features with standard assembly models reported in the literature, with the advantage that all observables can be computed in an exact manner.