Dr Owen Petchey, Royal Society University Research Fellow, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield
Summary: Extinctions lead to loss of biodiversity and can compromise ecosystems. Many theories about extinction represent species as independent entities, whereas in reality they are linked together by a complex network of interactions. These links create the possibility for extinctions to spread through ecosystems, with consequences for both the extent and trajectory of system collapse. The results of experimental and theoretical studies will be used to illustrate some of these consequences, including accelerated system collapse via positive feedbacks among extinctions, and ‘super-stochastic’ extinction trajectories.