Resource availability modulates biodiversity-invasion relationships by altering competitive interactions

Abstract

Community diversity affects the survival of newly introduced species via resource competition. Competitive interactions can be modulated by resource availability and we hypothesized that this may alter biodiversity-invasion relationships. To study this, we assessed the growth of a bacterial invader, Ralstonia solanacearum, when introduced into communities comprised of one to five closely related resident species under different resource concentrations. The invader growth was then examined as a function of resident community richness, species composition and resource availability. We found that the relative density of the invader was reduced by increasing resident community richness and resource availability. Mechanistically, this could be explained by changes in the competitive interactions between the resident species and the invader along the resource availability gradient. At low resource availability, resident species with a high catabolic similarity with the invader efficiently reduced the invader relative density, while at high resource availability, fast-growing resident species became more important for the invader suppression. These results indicate that the relative importance of different resident community species can change dynamically along to resource availability gradient. Diverse communities could be thus more robust to invasions by providing a set of significant species that can take suppressive roles across different environments

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