BBIB talk: Exploring resistance to change: how organismal responses scale to stabilise ecological communities
The study of stability and change has long interested ecologists, but understanding the range of mechanisms that buffer communities to disturbance has become a pressing necessity to face current rates of environmental change. For the past few decades, resilience has been the hallmark of research into human-induced ecological change, providing a theoretical basis to study regime shifts and policies to manage them. In a sign of increasing maturity, research is shifting from the predominant assessment of drivers of change and recovery to the inclusion of mechanisms that buffer change. Here, I will show how organismal responses to environmental change can generate stabilising dynamics at higher levels of ecological organisation. I will then explore how ecological complexity can dampen the effects of environmental disturbance by interfacing bottom-up and top-down responses. The understanding of such buffering mechanisms can offer insights into pathways of stability, acclimation and adaptation, but requires the integration of frameworks that predict organismal responses to abiotic change (e.g. energy budgets, nutritional ecology) and their consideration within the web of species interactions.