The Robust Volterra Principle

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Weisberg, Michael; Reisman, Kenneth
preprint description
Theorizing in ecology and evolution often proceeds via the construction of multiple idealized models. To determine whether a theoretical result actually depends on core features of the models and is not an artifact of simplifying assumptions, theorists have developed the technique of robustness analysis, the examination of multiple models looking for common predictions. A striking example of robustness analysis in ecology is the discovery of the Volterra Principle, which describes the effect of general biocides in predator-prey systems. This paper details the discovery of the Volterra Principle and the demonstration of its robustness. It considers the classical ecology literature on robustness and introduces two individual-based models of predation, which are used to further analyze the Volterra Principle. The paper also introduces a distinction between \emph{parameter robustness}, \emph{structural robustness}, and \emph{representational robustness}, and demonstrates that the Volterra Principle exhibits all three kinds of robustness.