Theoretical guidelines for editing ecological communities
AbstractHaving control over species abundances and community resilience is of
great interest for experimental, agricultural, industrial and
conservation purposes. Here, we theoretically explore the possibility of
manipulating ecological communities by modifying pairwise interactions.
Specifically, we establish which interaction values should be modified,
and by how much, in order to alter the composition or resilience of a
community towards a favorable direction. While doing so, we also take
into account the experimental difficulties in making such modifications
by including in our optimization process, a cost parameter, which
penalizes large modifications. In addition to prescribing what changes
should be made to interspecies interactions given some modification
cost, our approach also serves to establish the limits of community
control, i.e. how well can one approach an ecological goal at best, even
when not constrained by cost.