Submit a preprint

Direct submissions to PCI Ecology from are possible using the B2J service


Why scaling up uncertain predictions to higher levels of organisation will underestimate changeuse asterix (*) to get italics
James Orr, Jeremy Piggott, Andrew Jackson, Jean-François ArnoldiPlease use the format "First name initials family name" as in "Marie S. Curie, Niels H. D. Bohr, Albert Einstein, John R. R. Tolkien, Donna T. Strickland"
<p>Uncertainty is an irreducible part of predictive science, causing us to over- or underestimate the magnitude of change that a system of interest will face. In a reductionist approach, we may use predictions at the level of individual system components (e.g. species biomass), and combine them to generate predictions for system-level properties (e.g. ecosystem function). Here we show that this process of scaling up uncertain predictions to higher levels of organization has a surprising consequence: it will systematically underestimate the magnitude of system-level change, an effect whose significance grows with the system's dimensionality. This stems from a geometrical observation: in high dimensions there are more ways to be more different, than ways to be more similar. This general remark applies to any complex system. Here we will focus on ecosystems thus, on ecosystem-level predictions generated from the combination of predictions at the species-level. In this setting, the ecosystem's dimensionality is a measure of its diversity. We explain why dimensional effects do not play out when predicting change of a single linear aggregate property (e.g. total biomass), yet are revealed when predicting change of non-linear properties (e.g. absolute biomass change, stability or diversity), and when several properties are considered at once to describe the ecosystem, as in multi-functional ecology. Our findings highlight and describe the counter-intuitive effects of scaling up uncertain predictions, effects that will occur in any field of science where a reductionist approach is used to generate predictions.</p>
You should fill this box only if you chose 'All or part of the results presented in this preprint are based on data'. URL must start with http:// or https://
You should fill this box only if you chose 'Scripts were used to obtain or analyze the results'. URL must start with http:// or https:// should fill this box only if you chose 'Codes have been used in this study'. URL must start with http:// or https://
Ecological Complexity, Diversity Metrics, Dimensionality, Mechanistic prediction, Multi-functionality, Multiple Stressors, Reductionism.
NonePlease indicate the methods that may require specialised expertise during the peer review process (use a comma to separate various required expertises).
Community ecology, Ecosystem functioning, Theoretical ecology
No need for them to be recommenders of PCIEcology. Please do not suggest reviewers for whom there might be a conflict of interest. Reviewers are not allowed to review preprints written by close colleagues (with whom they have published in the last four years, with whom they have received joint funding in the last four years, or with whom they are currently writing a manuscript, or submitting a grant proposal), or by family members, friends, or anyone for whom bias might affect the nature of the review - see the code of conduct
e.g. John Doe []
2020-06-02 15:41:12
Elisa Thebault