New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1997) 21(1): 103- 110

Intermediate disturbance and its relationship to within- and between-patch dynamics

Research Article
Scott L. Collins 1,*
Susan M. Glenn 2
  1. Department of Zoology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20749, USA
  2. Centre for Applied Conservation Biology, Department of Forest Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1W5, Canada
  3. Address for correspondence: Division of Environmental Biology, Rm 635, National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA 22230, USA
*  Corresponding author

The intermediate disturbance hypothesis has been the focus of considerable analysis in terrestrial and aquatic systems. This model predicts that species diversity will be highest at intermediate frequencies of disturbance. Despite numerous theoretical and empirical analyses, the utility of the model is still the subject of intense debate. Rather than developing restrictive time and space constraints on application, we suggest that the model may best be used as a generalizable framework for testing hypotheses in both aquatic and terrestrial systems, In addition, we believe that the model may be applied to both within- and between-patch scales. Finally, we propose an empirical model in which disturbance is an extinction causing event, and post-disturbance succession is modeled based on the dynamics of immigration and extinction. Such a model can incorporate a variety of patterns in species diversity in response to disturbance.