270 research outputs found

    Spatial arrangement affects population dynamics and competition independent of community composition

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    Theory suggests that the spatial context within which species interactions occur will have major implications for the outcome of competition and ultimately, coexistence, but empirical tests are rare. This is surprising given that individuals of species in real communities are typically distributed nonrandomly in space. Nonrandom spatial arrangement has the potential to modify the relative strength of intra- and interspecific competition by changing the ratio of conspecific to heterospecific competitive encounters, particularly among sessile species where interactions among individuals occur on local scales. Here we test the influence of aggregated and random spatial arrangements on population trajectories of competing species in benthic, marine, sessile-invertebrate assemblages. We show that the spatial arrangement of competing species in simple assemblages has a strong effect on species performance: when conspecifics are aggregated, strong competitors perform poorly and weaker competitors perform better. The effect of specific spatial arrangements depends on species identity but is also strongly context dependent. When there are large differences in species competitive ability, aggregated spatial arrangements can slow competitive exclusion, and so nonrandom spatial arrangement can work synergistically with other trade-off based mechanisms to facilitate coexistence

    CO2, nitrogen, and diversity differentially affect seed production of prairie plants

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    Plant species composition and diversity is often influenced by early life history stages; thus, global change could dramatically affect plant community structure by altering seed production. Unfortunately, plant reproductive responses to global change are rarely studied in field settings, making it difficult to assess this possibility. To address this issue, we quantified the effects of elevated CO2, nitrogen deposition, and declining diversity on inflorescence production and inflorescence mass of 11 perennial grassland species in central Minnesota, USA. We analyzed these data to ask whether (1) global change differentially affects seed production of co-occurring species; (2) seed production responses to global change are similar for species within the same functional group (defined by ecophysiology and growth form); and (3) seed production responses to global change match productivity responses. We found that, on average, allocation to seed production decreased under elevated CO2, although individual species responses were rarely significant due to low power (CO2 treatment df = 2). The effects of nitrogen deposition on seed production were similar within functional groups: C4 grasses tended to increase while C3 grasses tended to decrease allocation to seed production. Responses to nitrogen deposition were negatively correlated to productivity responses, suggesting a trade-off. Allocation to seed production of some species responded to a diversity gradient, but responses were uncorrelated to productivity responses and not similar within functional groups. Presumably, species richness has complex effects on the biotic and abiotic variables that influence seed production. In total, our results suggest that seed production of co-occurring species will be altered by global change, which may affect plant communities in unpredictable ways. Although functional groups could be used to generalize seed production responses to nitrogen deposition in Minnesota prairies, we caution against relying on them for predictive purposes without a mechanistic understanding of how resource availability and biotic interactions affect seed production

    Detecting the influence of initial pioneers on succession at deep-sea vents

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    © The Author(s), 2012. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in PLoS One 7 (2012): e50015, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050015.Deep-sea hydrothermal vents are subject to major disturbances that alter the physical and chemical environment and eradicate the resident faunal communities. Vent fields are isolated by uninhabitable deep seafloor, so recolonization via dispersal of planktonic larvae is critical for persistence of populations. We monitored colonization near 9°50′N on the East Pacific Rise following a catastrophic eruption in order to address questions of the relative contributions of pioneer colonists and environmental change to variation in species composition, and the role of pioneers at the disturbed site in altering community structure elsewhere in the region. Pioneer colonists included two gastropod species: Ctenopelta porifera, which was new to the vent field, and Lepetodrilus tevnianus, which had been rare before the eruption but persisted in high abundance afterward, delaying and possibly out-competing the ubiquitous pre-eruption congener L. elevatus. A decrease in abundance of C. porifera over time, and the arrival of later species, corresponded to a decrease in vent fluid flow and in the sulfide to temperature ratio. For some species these successional changes were likely due to habitat requirements, but other species persisted (L. tevnianus) or arrived (L. elevatus) in patterns unrelated to their habitat preferences. After two years, disturbed communities had started to resemble pre-eruption ones, but were lower in diversity. When compared to a prior (1991) eruption, the succession of foundation species (tubeworms and mussels) appeared to be delayed, even though habitat chemistry became similar to the pre-eruption state more quickly. Surprisingly, a nearby community that had not been disturbed by the eruption was invaded by the pioneers, possibly after they became established in the disturbed vents. These results indicate that the post-eruption arrival of species from remote locales had a strong and persistent effect on communities at both disturbed and undisturbed vents.The authors received funding from National Science Foundation grant OCE-0424953, WHOI Deep Ocean Exploration Institute, WHOI Summer Student Fellow program, Woods Hole Partnership in Education Program, IFREMER and CNRS, Fondation TOTAL Chair Extreme Marine Environment, Biodiversity and Global change

    Multitaxonomic Diversity Patterns along a Desert Riparian–Upland Gradient

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    Riparian areas are noted for their high biodiversity, but this has rarely been tested across a wide range of taxonomic groups. We set out to describe species richness, species abundance, and community similarity patterns for 11 taxonomic groups (forbs & grasses, shrubs, trees, solpugids, spiders, scarab beetles, butterflies, lizards, birds, rodents, and mammalian carnivores) individually and for all groups combined along a riparian–upland gradient in semiarid southeastern Arizona, USA. Additionally, we assessed whether biological characteristics could explain variation in diversity along the gradient using five traits (trophic level, body size, life span, thermoregulatory mechanism, and taxonomic affiliation). At the level of individual groups diversity patterns varied along the gradient, with some having greater richness and/or abundance in riparian zones whereas others were more diverse and/or abundant in upland zones. Across all taxa combined, riparian zones contained significantly more species than the uplands. Community similarity between riparian and upland zones was low, and beta diversity was significantly greater than expected for most taxonomic groups, though biological traits explained little variance in diversity along the gradient. These results indicate heterogeneity amongst taxa in how they respond to the factors that structure ecological communities in riparian landscapes. Nevertheless, across taxonomic groups the overall pattern is one of greater species richness and abundance in riparian zones, coupled with a distinct suite of species

    Soil nutrients and beta diversity in the Bornean Dipterocarpaceae: evidence for niche partitioning by tropical rain forest trees

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    1   The relative importance of niche- and dispersal-mediated processes in structuring diverse tropical plant communities remains poorly understood. Here, we link mesoscale beta diversity to soil variation throughout a lowland Bornean watershed underlain by alluvium, sedimentary and granite parent materials ( c . 340 ha, 8–200 m a.s.l.). We test the hypothesis that species turnover across the habitat gradient reflects interspecific partitioning of soil resources. 2   Floristic inventories (≥ 1 cm d.b.h.) of the Dipterocarpaceae, the dominant Bornean canopy tree family, were combined with extensive soil analyses in 30 (0.16 ha) plots. Six samples per plot were analysed for total C, N, P, K, Ca and Mg, exchangeable K, Ca and Mg, extractable P, texture, and pH. 3   Extractable P, exchangeable K, and total C, N and P varied significantly among substrates and were highest on alluvium. Thirty-one dipterocarp species ( n  = 2634 individuals, five genera) were recorded. Dipterocarp density was similar across substrates, but richness and diversity were highest on nutrient-poor granite and lowest on nutrient-rich alluvium. 4   Eighteen of 22 species were positively or negatively associated with parent material. In 8 of 16 abundant species, tree distribution (≥ 10 cm d.b.h.) was more strongly non-random than juveniles (1–10 cm d.b.h.), suggesting higher juvenile mortality in unsuitable habitats. The dominant species Dipterocarpus sublamellatus (> 50% of stems) was indifferent to substrate, but nine of 11 ‘subdominant’ species (> 8 individuals ha −1 ) were substrate specialists. 5   Eighteen of 22 species were significantly associated with soil nutrients, especially P, Mg and Ca. Floristic variation was significantly correlated with edaphic and geographical distance for all stems ≥ 1 cm d.b.h. in Mantel analyses. However, juvenile variation (1–10 cm d.b.h.) was more strongly related to geographical distance than edaphic factors, while the converse held for established trees (≥ 10 cm d.b.h.), suggesting increased importance of niche processes with size class. 6   Pervasive dipterocarp associations with soil factors suggest that niche partitioning structures dipterocarp tree communities. Yet, much floristic variation unrelated to soil was correlated with geographical distance between plots, suggesting that dispersal and niche processes jointly determine mesoscale beta diversity in the Bornean Dipterocarpaceae. Journal of Ecology (2005) doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2005.01077.xPeer Reviewedhttp://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/72822/1/j.1365-2745.2005.01077.x.pd

    Above- and below-ground vertebrate herbivory may each favour a different subordinate species in an aquatic plant community

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    At least two distinct trade-offs are thought to facilitate higher diversity in productive plant communities under herbivory. Higher investment in defence and enhanced colonization potential may both correlate with decreased competitive ability in plants. Herbivory may thus promote coexistence of plant species exhibiting divergent life history strategies. How different seasonally tied herbivore assemblages simultaneously affect plant community composition and diversity is, however, largely unknown. Two contrasting types of herbivory can be distinguished in the aquatic vegetation of the shallow lake Lauwersmeer. In summer, predominantly above-ground tissues are eaten, whereas in winter, waterfowl forage on below-ground plant propagules. In a 4-year exclosure study we experimentally separated above-ground herbivory by waterfowl and large fish in summer from below-ground herbivory by Bewick’s swans in winter. We measured the individual and combined effects of both herbivory periods on the composition of the three-species aquatic plant community. Herbivory effect sizes varied considerably from year to year. In 2 years herbivore exclusion in summer reinforced dominance of Potamogeton pectinatus with a concomitant decrease in Potamogeton pusillus, whereas no strong, unequivocal effect was observed in the other 2 years. Winter exclusion, on the other hand, had a negative effect on Zannichellia palustris, but the effect size differed considerably between years. We suggest that the colonization ability of Z. palustris may have enabled this species to be more abundant after reduction of P. pectinatus tuber densities by swans. Evenness decreased due to herbivore exclusion in summer. We conclude that seasonally tied above- and below-ground herbivory may each stimulate different components of a macrophyte community as they each favoured a different subordinate plant species

    Shrub Invasion Decreases Diversity and Alters Community Stability in Northern Chihuahuan Desert Plant Communities

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    BACKGROUND:Global climate change is rapidly altering species range distributions and interactions within communities. As ranges expand, invading species change interactions in communities which may reduce stability, a mechanism known to affect biodiversity. In aridland ecosystems worldwide, the range of native shrubs is expanding as they invade and replace native grassland vegetation with significant consequences for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. METHODOLOGY:We used two long-term data sets to determine the effects of shrub encroachment by Larrea tridentata on subdominant community composition and stability in formerly native perennial grassland dominated by Bouteloua eriopoda in New Mexico, USA. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:Our results indicated that Larrea invasion decreased species richness during the last 100 years. We also found that over shorter temporal scales species-poor subdominant communities in areas invaded by Larrea were less stable (more variable in time) compared to species rich communities in grass-dominated vegetation. Compositional stability increased as cover of Bouteloua increased and decreased as cover of Larrea increased. SIGNIFICANCE:Changes in community stability due to altered interspecific interactions may be one mechanism by which biodiversity declines in grasslands following shrub invasion. As global warming increases, shrub encroachment into native grasslands worldwide will continue to alter species interactions and community stability both of which may lead to a decline in biodiversity
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