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Biology, chance, or history? The predictable reassembly of temperate grassland communities


Petermann, J S; Fergus, A J F; Roscher, C; Turnbull, L A; Weigelt, A; Schmid, B (2010). Biology, chance, or history? The predictable reassembly of temperate grassland communities. Ecology, 91(2):408-421.

Abstract

Many studies have examined invasion resistance in plant communities, but few have explored the mechanisms of invasion and how subsequent community reassembly affects
community functioning. Using natural dispersal and deliberate seed addition into grassland communities with different compositional and richness histories, we show that invaders establish in a nonrandom manner due to negative effects of resident functional groups on invading species from the same functional group. Invaders hence complement communities with originally low richness levels. Consequently, communities converge toward similar levels
of species richness, high functional richness, and evenness, but not always maximum productivity. Invasion processes are faster but qualitatively similar when the effect of chance, in the form of dispersal stochasticity, is reduced by seed addition. Thus, dispersal limitation
may influence community assembly, but it does not override functionally predictable assembly mechanisms. Some of the most productive communities prior to invasion are unstable in the face of invasion, leading to decreased productivity following invasion. We suggest that invasion into such communities occurs possibly because a pathogen-free niche is available rather than a resource niche. Thus, pathogens in addition to resource niches may be important biological drivers of community assembly.

Many studies have examined invasion resistance in plant communities, but few have explored the mechanisms of invasion and how subsequent community reassembly affects
community functioning. Using natural dispersal and deliberate seed addition into grassland communities with different compositional and richness histories, we show that invaders establish in a nonrandom manner due to negative effects of resident functional groups on invading species from the same functional group. Invaders hence complement communities with originally low richness levels. Consequently, communities converge toward similar levels
of species richness, high functional richness, and evenness, but not always maximum productivity. Invasion processes are faster but qualitatively similar when the effect of chance, in the form of dispersal stochasticity, is reduced by seed addition. Thus, dispersal limitation
may influence community assembly, but it does not override functionally predictable assembly mechanisms. Some of the most productive communities prior to invasion are unstable in the face of invasion, leading to decreased productivity following invasion. We suggest that invasion into such communities occurs possibly because a pathogen-free niche is available rather than a resource niche. Thus, pathogens in addition to resource niches may be important biological drivers of community assembly.

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33 citations in Web of Science®
36 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:biodiversity–productivity relationship; community stability; dispersal limitation; ecosystem functioning; invasion resistance; invasiveness; negative feedback; neutral theory; nonrandom invasion; species richness
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:21 Mar 2010 10:04
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:03
Publisher:Ecological Society of America
ISSN:0012-9658
Additional Information:Copyright by the Ecological Society of America. Jana S. Petermann, Alexander J. F. Fergus, Christiane Roscher, Lindsay A. Turnbull, Alexandra Weigelt, Bernhard Schmid (2010) Biology, chance, or history? The predictable reassembly of temperate grassland communities. Ecology: Vol. 91, No. 2, pp. 408-421
Publisher DOI:10.1890/08-2304.1
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-32963

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