Resilience in Ecosystems

In 1998, the model of cross-scale resilience was proposed. One prediction following from that model is that birds of different body size respond differently to resources as they scale up and aggregate in larger concentrations. An example of this occurs with pest outbreaks–when larger volumes of trees are infested with insects such as spruce budworm, larger bird species begin to exploit the pest, and are drawn from broader areas to do so. This provides a robust check on outbreaks over a broad range of spatial and temporal scales.


We are conducting experimental and empirical tests of the model of cross-scale resilience.

Current Status

We have conducted simulations comparing actual distributions of function across animal size classes against simulated distributions, and found that the richness of function across size classes in real ecological systems is more constant than expected. Field research began in May 2006 to measure the difference in spatial response of birds of different body size to resources aggregated at different levels in row crop agricultural fields. A masters thesis is complete.

Principal Investigator(s)
-Craig R. Allen, NE CFWRU

Graduate Student(s)
-Don Wardwell (MS 2007)

-The James S. McDonnell Foundation – Studying Complex Systems