Special issue in Biological Conservation


Edited by

  • Sonia Kefi
  • Pierre Gaüzère
  • Daniel Oro

Ecology and conservation biology have historically relied on the equilibrium paradigm and the “balance of nature” metaphor. Nevertheless, ecological systems are inherently changing in space and time, especially under the agents of global change. This has set a scientific challenge, e.g. the consideration of transient dynamics, stochasticity and disequilibrium, where populations, communities and ecosystems are decoupled from environmental conditions. While a non-equilibrium paradigm has pervaded recent ecological research, conservation biology has seldom considered the new paradigm and its consequences.The aim of this special issue is to address several questions, including:How may we combine various methods to identify that a given study system is out of equilibrium?How can a non-equilibrium perspective be incorporated in biodiversity assessment ?How can we adapt conservation strategies to take into account non-equilibrium dynamics?Those questions – along with many others – require a scrutiny if biological conservation wants to fully integrate non-equilibrium perspectives in the near future.

Conceptual representation of ecological complexity. Panels represent different metapopulation complex dynamics (e.g. logistic, stochastic, cyclic, boom-bust) for different species in a community over time. Network plots represent local populations of different species (represented by dots of different colours) breeding over time; local populations in the community are linked by dispersal processes and may go extinct and colonized. The upper right corner shows how climate and different ecological communities (butterflies with adults and larvae, wasp parasitoids and plants) may interact in a complex way (only some of those interactions are shown in arrows -red arrows show predation and parasitism).