Biodiversity dynamics on islands: explicitly accounting for causality in mechanistic models
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Diversity (2017)

Island biogeography remains a popular topic in ecology and has gained renewed interest due to recent theoretical development. As experimental investigation of the theory is difficult to carry out, mechanistic simulation models provide useful alternatives. Several eco-evolutionary mechanisms have been identified to affect island biodiversity, but integrating more than a few of these processes into models remains a challenge. To get an overview of what processes mechanistic island models have integrated so far and what conclusions they came to, we conducted an exhaustive literature review of studies featuring island-specific mechanistic models. This was done using an extensive systematic literature search with subsequent manual filtering. We obtained a list of 28 studies containing mechanistic island models, out of 647 total hits. Mechanistic island models differ greatly in their integrated processes and computational structure. Their individual findings range from theoretical (such as humped-shaped extinction rates for oceanic islands) to system-specific dynamics (e.g., equilibrium and non-equilibrium dynamics for Galápagos’ birds). However, most models so far only integrate theories and processes pair-wise, while focusing on hypothetical systems. Trophic interactions and explicit micro-evolution are largely underrepresented in models. We expect future models to continue integrating processes, thus promoting the full appraisal of biodiversity dynamics.
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