Temporal ecological variability

Wavelet diagram of rainfall over a 30-year period in central California (see Tonkin et al., 2017; Ecology)

Temporal environmental fluctuations, such as seasonality, exert strong controls on biodiversity. Highly predictable variability can enable the coexistence of an unexpectedly high number of species. We are increasingly realising the rapidity with which natural cycles are changing and the extent to which these changes are affecting biodiversity, from genes to entire ecosystems. These changes are threatening the stability of ecosystems and their services across scales. We develop mechanistic models and analyse long-term ecological datasets to uncover the drivers of temporal variability in ecosystems. We are particularly interested in the link between local and regional dynamics, including dispersal and habitat connectivity, and the role of spatial insurance in regulating the stability of biodiversity at multiple scales. Potential regulators of ecological stability differ across spatial scales, from local compensatory population dynamics to regional-scale asynchrony in community fluctuations.

Jonathan D. Tonkin
Senior Lecturer & Rutherford Discovery Fellow


Seasonality and predictability shape temporal species diversity

Drawing on tools from wavelet analysis and information theory, we developed a framework for quantifying both seasonality and …