16 July 2014

Lecture on Ecosystem Vulnerability to
Species Loss

Victoria Veshchinskaya gave a talk on Ecosystem Vulnerability to Species Loss on 15 July. 

Talk abstract:

Species losses have always occurred as a natural phenomenon, but the pace at which species are going extinct has recently accelerated dramatically as a result of human activities. The disappearance of a species can have far-reaching and often unexpected consequences for other species, since changes can propagate throughout ecosystems. The principal aim of this project is to investigate the consequences of species losses in ecosystems. In this project, we develop and analyze a dynamic ecosystem network model, calibrated to a set of real ecosystems, to predict the cascading changes that can follow the extinction of a species. The impacts of such primary species losses are measured in terms of secondary extinctions and biomass changes. Fundamental descriptors of ecosystem structure (such as the number of coexisting species, their connectance, Finn cycling index etc.) are assessed for their capacity to predict indicators of ecosystem vulnerability to species loss (such as the average number of secondary extinctions, the average biomass loss or gain, the average time to extinction etc.). Particular emphasis is given to the relationship between an ecosystem’s structural complexity and vulnerability.

Victoria Veshchinskaya graduated in 2010 from the Department of Optimal Control, Faculty of Computational Mathematics and Cybernetics, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate there. In 2012 she participated in IIASA’s YSSP Program.

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Last edited: 16 July 2014

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