1,380 research outputs found

    Beyond connectedness: why pairwise metrics cannot capture community stability

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    The connectedness of species in a trophic web has long been a key structural characteristic for both theoreticians and empiricists in their understanding of community stability. In the past decades, there has been a shift from focussing on determining the number of interactions to taking into account their relative strengths. The question is: How do the strengths of the interactions determine the stability of a community? Recently, a metric has been proposed which compares the stability of observed communities in terms of the strength of three- and two-link feedback loops (cycles of interaction strengths). However, it has also been suggested that we do not need to go beyond the pairwise structure of interactions to capture stability. Here, we directly compare the performance of the feedback and pairwise metrics. Using observed food-web structures, we show that the pairwise metric does not work as a comparator of stability and is many orders of magnitude away from the actual stability values. We argue that metrics based on pairwise-strength information cannot capture the complex organization of strong and weak links in a community, which is essential for system stability

    Disturbance–diversity models: what do they really predict and how are they tested?

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    The intermediate disturbance hypothesis (IDH) and the dynamic equilibrium model (DEM) are influential theories in ecology. The IDH predicts large species numbers at intermediate levels of disturbance and the DEM predicts that the effect of disturbance depends on the level of productivity. However, various indices of diversity are considered more commonly than the predicted number of species in tests of the hypotheses. This issue reaches beyond the scientific community as the predictions of the IDH and the DEM are used in the management of national parks and reserves. In order to compare responses with disturbance among measures of biodiversity, we used two different approaches of mathematical modelling and conducted an extensive meta-analysis. Two-thirds of the surveyed studies present different results for different diversity measures. Accordingly, the meta-analysis showed a narrow range of negative quadratic regression components for richness, but not evenness. Also, the two models support the IDH and the DEM, respectively, when biodiversity is measured as species richness, but predict evenness to increase with increasing disturbance, for all levels of productivity. Consequently, studies that use compound indices of diversity should present logical arguments, a priori, to why a specific index of diversity should peak in response to disturbance

    Nested species interactions promote feasibility over stability during the assembly of a pollinator community

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    The foundational concepts behind the persistence of ecological communities have been based on two ecological properties: dynamical stability and feasibility. The former is typically regarded as the capacity of a community to return to an original equilibrium state after a perturbation in species abundances and is usually linked to the strength of interspecific interactions. The latter is the capacity to sustain positive abundances on all its constituent species and is linked to both interspecific interactions and species demographic characteristics. Over the last 40 years, theoretical research in ecology has emphasized the search for conditions leading to the dynamical stability of ecological communities, while the conditions leading to feasibility have been overlooked. However, thus far, we have no evidence of whether species interactions are more conditioned by the community's need to be stable or feasible. Here, we introduce novel quantitative methods and use empirical data to investigate the consequences of species interactions on the dynamical stability and feasibility of mutualistic communities. First, we demonstrate that the more nested the species interactions in a community are, the lower the mutualistic strength that the community can tolerate without losing dynamical stability. Second, we show that high feasibility in a community can be reached either with high mutualistic strength or with highly nested species interactions. Third, we find that during the assembly process of a seasonal pollinator community located at The Zackenberg Research Station (northeastern Greenland), a high feasibility is reached through the nested species interactions established between newcomer and resident species. Our findings imply that nested mutualistic communities promote feasibility over stability, which may suggest that the former can be key for community persistence

    Strong Zonation of Benthic Communities Across a Tidal Freshwater Height Gradient

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    Trade-offs associated with environmental gradients generate patterns of diversity and govern community organisation in a landscape. In freshwaters, benthic community structure is driven by trade-offs along generally orthogonal gradients of habitat permanence and predation—where ephemeral systems are physiologically harsh because of drying stress, but inhabitants are less likely to be under the intense predation pressure of more permanent waterbodies. However, in tidal freshwaters, these two stressors are compounding, and the trade-offs associated with them are decoupled. 2. We investigated benthic community structure in a tidal freshwater habitat. These communities experience a suite of conditions atypical for a freshwater habitat: twice-daily drying; and high predation pressure by mobile fishes. We compared benthic communities at three tidal heights (low, mid, high) and contrasted these with nearby non-tidal freshwaters that varied in their hydrology (permanent, temporary). 3. We found that communities were more strongly differentiated in tidal freshwater habitats than between permanent and temporary inland freshwaters, which was surprising given the high interconnectedness and condensed longitudinal scale of tidal habitats. The differentiation of communities in tidal habitats was probably driven by the combined gradients of desiccation risk at low tide and intense predation by fish at high tide—a combination of pressures that are novel for the evolutionary history of the regional freshwater invertebrate fauna. 4. Our study provides evidence that environmental gradients can produce stronger patterns of community zonation than would be predicted for habitats that are spatially contiguous and have little or no dispersal limitation. These results give insight into how communities might respond if drivers of community structure are altered or reorganised from their regional or evolutionary norms

    Effects of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy on Impulsive Decision Making

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    This study examined the transdiagnostic effect of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) on impulsive decision making in a community sample. Forty adults were randomized to eight individual sessions of ACT or an inactive control. Participants completed pre-, mid-, and post-assessments for psychological symptoms, overall behavior change, valued living, delay discounting, psychological flexibility, and distress tolerance. Data were analyzed with multilevel modeling of growth curves. Significant interaction effects of time and condition were observed for psychological flexibility, distress tolerance, psychological symptoms, and the obstruction subscale of valued living. No significant interaction effect was found for two delay discounting tasks nor the progress subscale of valued living. The ACT condition had a significantly larger reduction of problem behavior at post-assessment. The results support use of ACT as a transdiagnostic treatment for impulsive behaviors. The lack of change in delay discounting contrasts previous research

    Supressão de plantas daninhas por leguminosas anuais em sistema agroecológico na Pré-Amazônia.

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    Este trabalho teve por objetivos identificar e avaliar a agressividade potencial das plantas daninhas em um agrossistema com leguminosas herbáceas anuais como cobertura de solo. Foram plantadas, nas ruas de um sistema de aléias de sombreiro ( Clitoria fairchildiana) e no final do período agrícola, as leguminosas mucuna-preta, feijão-guandu, feijão-de-porco e calopogônio, em sistema de blocos ao acaso com cinco repetições. Para estudo da dinâmica da composição florística, avaliaram-se a freqüência, densidade, dominância, similaridade, diversidade de espécies e biomassa das plantas daninhas. Foram identificadas 42 espécies de plantas espontâneas, das quais as mais freqüentes e de maior densidade e dominância foram Leptochoa virgata, Panicumlaxum e Sidasp. Não foram detectadas diferenças significativas para densidade, número de espécies, diversidade e biomassa entre as plantas daninhas emergidas nos quatro tratamentos com leguminosas; nem destas em relação ao controle

    Tropical Herbivorous Phasmids, but Not Litter Snails, Alter Decomposition Rates By Modifying Litter Bacteria

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    Consumers can alter decomposition rates through both feces and selective feeding in many ecosystems, but these combined effects have seldom been examined in tropical ecosystems. Members of the detrital food web (litter-feeders or microbivores) should presumably have greater effects on decomposition than herbivores, members of the green food web. Using litterbag experiments within a field enclosure experiment, we determined the relative effects of common litter snails (Megalomastoma croceum) and herbivorous walking sticks (Lamponius portoricensis) on litter composition, decomposition rates, and microbes in a Puerto Rican rainforest, and whether consumer effects were altered by canopy cover presence. Although canopy presence did not alter consumers’ effects, focal organisms had unexpected influences on decomposition. Decomposition was not altered by litter snails, but herbivorous walking sticks reduced leaf decomposition by about 50% through reductions in high quality litter abundance and, consequently, lower bacterial richness and abundance. This relatively unexplored but potentially important link between tropical herbivores, detritus, and litter microbes in this forest demonstrates the need to consider autotrophic influences when examining rainforest ecosystem processes
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