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Positive Species Interactions

In natural communities, species affect each other through not only negative interactions such as competition and predation, but also through positive interactions such as facilitation and mutualism. A growing body of literature has shown that positive rather than negative interactions dominate in certain environments (such as the facilitative effects of shrubs on crabs in extremely saline marshes in China, pictured above). Incorporating positive species interactions will alter many basic ecological paradigms and predictions based solely on negative species interactions.


In my research, I study how positive species interactions affect community structure and ecosystem functioning and how they affect ecosystem resilience to environmental change and restoration of degraded ecosystems. I study not only positive plant-plant interactions but also positive plant-animal interactions, trophic or non-trophic.


Relevant Publications

He, Q., Bertness, M.D., & Altieri, A.H. 2013. Global shifts towards positive species interactions with increasing environmental stress. Ecology Letters 16: 695–706.


Silliman, B. R., Schrack, E. C., He, Q., Cope, R., Santoni, A., van der Heide, T., Jacobi, R., Jacobi, M., & van de Koppel, J. 2015. Facilitation shifts paradigms and can amplify coastal restoration efforts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 112: 14295–14300.


He, Q., & Bertness, M.D.. 2014. Extreme stresses, niches, and positive species interactions along stress gradients. Ecology 95: 1437–1443.


He, Q., & Cui, B. 2015. Multiple mechanisms sustain a plant-animal facilitation on a coastal ecotone. Scientific Reports 5: 8612.


He, Q., Cui, B., Bertness, M.D., & An, Y. 2012. Testing the importance of plant strategies on facilitation using congeners in a coastal community. Ecology 93: 2023–2029.


He, Q., Cui, B.S., & An, Y. 2011. The importance of facilitation in the zonation of shrubs along a coastal salinity gradient. Journal of Vegetation Science 22: 828–836.

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