Extreme flood disturbance effects on multiple dimensions of river invertebrate community stability

Lawrence Eagle, Alexander Milner, Megan Klaar, Jonathan Carrivick, Martin Wilkes, Lee Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


Multidimensional analysis of community stability has recently emerged as an overarching approach to evaluating ecosystem response to disturbance. However, the approach has previously been applied only in experimental and modelling studies. We applied this concept to an 18-year time series (2000–2017) of macroinvertebrate community dynamics from a southeast Alaskan river to further develop and test the approach in relation to the effects of two extreme flood events occurring in 2005 (event 1) and 2014 (event 2). Five components of stability were calculated for pairs of pre- or post-event years. Individual components were tested for differences between pre- and post-event time periods. Stability components’ pairwise correlations were assessed and ellipsoids of stability were developed for each time period and compared to a null model derived from the permuted dataset. Only one stability component demonstrated a significant difference between time periods. In contrast, 80% of moderate and significant correlations between stability components were degraded post-disturbance and significant changes to the form of stability ellipsoids were observed. Ellipsoids of stability for all periods after the initial disturbance (2005) were not different to the null model. Our results illustrate that the dimensionality of stability approach can be applied to natural ecosystem time-series data. The major increase in dimensionality of stability observed following disturbance potentially indicates significant shifts in the processes which drive stability following disturbance. This evidence improves our understanding of community response beyond what is possible through analysis of individual stability components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2135-2146
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number9
Early online date7 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Research has been supported by funding from various bodies including NERC (GR9/2913, NE/E003729/1, NE/E004539/1, and NE/E004148/1 NE/M0174781/1), the Royal Society, and the Universities of Birmingham and Leeds. L.J.B.E. was funded by a University of Leeds Anniversary Research Scholarship.


  • colonisation
  • deterministic community assembly
  • dimensionality of stability
  • ecological stability
  • extinction
  • stochastic community assembly
  • temporal variability
  • time series

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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