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Forecasting in the face of ecological complexity: number and strength of species interactions determines forecast skill in ecological communities
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  • Uriah Daugaard,
  • Stephan Munch,
  • David Inauen,
  • Frank Pennekamp,
  • Owen Petchey
Uriah Daugaard
University of Zurich

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Stephan Munch
University of California Santa Cruz
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David Inauen
University of Zurich
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Frank Pennekamp
University of Zurich
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Owen Petchey
University of Zurich
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The potential for forecasting the dynamics of ecological systems is currently unclear, with contrasting opinions regarding its feasibility due to ecological complexity. To investigate forecast skill within and across system complexity, we monitored a microbial system exposed to either constant or fluctuating temperatures in a five months long laboratory experiment. We tested how forecasting of species abundances depends on number and strength of interactions and on model size (number of predictors). We also tested how greater system complexity (i.e. the fluctuating temperatures) impacted these relations. We found that the more a species interacted, the weaker these interactions were and the better its abundance was predicted. Forecast skill increased with model size. Greater system complexity decreased forecast skill for three out of eight species. These insights into how abundance prediction depends on the embedding of the species within the system and on overall system complexity could improve species forecasting and monitoring.
02 Mar 2022Submitted to Ecology Letters
04 Mar 2022Submission Checks Completed
04 Mar 2022Assigned to Editor
11 Mar 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
02 Apr 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
05 Apr 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Major
14 May 20221st Revision Received
16 May 2022Assigned to Editor
16 May 2022Submission Checks Completed
17 May 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
08 Jun 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
12 Jun 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
15 Jun 20222nd Revision Received
15 Jun 2022Assigned to Editor
15 Jun 2022Submission Checks Completed
16 Jun 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
17 Jun 2022Editorial Decision: Accept
Sep 2022Published in Ecology Letters volume 25 issue 9 on pages 1974-1985. 10.1111/ele.14070