Pulse and Press Disturbances Have Different Effects on Transient Community Dynamics

Hidetoshi Inamine, Adam Miller, Stephen Roxburgh, Angus Buckling, Katriona Shea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Disturbances are important determinants of diversity, and the combination of their aspects (e.g., disturbance intensity, fre-quency) can result in complex diversity patterns. Here, we leverage an important approach to classifying disturbances in terms of temporal span to understand the implications for species coexistence: pulse disturbances are acute and discrete events, while press disturbances occur continuously through time. We incorporate the resultant mortality rates into a common framework involving disturbance frequency and intensity. Press disturbances can be encoded into models in two distinct ways, and we show that the appropriateness of each depends on the type of data available. Using this framework, we com-pare the effects of pulse versus press disturbance on both asymptotic and transient dynamics of a two-species Lotka-Volterra competition model to understand how they engage with equalizing mechanisms of coexistence. We show that press and pulse disturbances differ in transient behavior, though their asymptotic diversity patterns are sim-ilar. Our work shows that these differences depend on how the un-derlying disturbance aspects interact and that the two ways of charac-terizing press disturbances can lead to contrasting interpretations of disturbance-diversity relationships. Our work demonstrates how theoretical modeling can strategically guide and help the interpretation of empirical work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-583
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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