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Disturbance reverses classic biodiversity predictions in river-like landscapes


Harvey, Eric; Gounand, Isabelle; Fronhofer, Emanuel A.; Altermatt, Florian (2018). Disturbance reverses classic biodiversity predictions in river-like landscapes. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 285(1893):1-9.

Abstract

Global analyses of biodiversity consistently reveal recurrent patterns of species distributions worldwide. However, unveiling the specific mechanisms behind those patterns remains logistically challenging, yet necessary for reliable biodiversity forecasts. Here, we combine theory and experiments to investigate the processes underlying spatial biodiversity patterns in dendritic, river-like landscapes, iconic examples of highly threatened ecosys- tems. We used geometric scaling properties, common to all rivers, to show that the distribution of biodiversity in these landscapes fundamentally depends on how ecological selection is modulated across space: while uni- form ecological selection across the network leads to higher diversity in downstream confluences, this pattern can be inverted by disturbances when population turnover (i.e. local mortality) is higher upstream than downstream. Higher turnover in small headwater patches can slow down ecological selection, increasing local diversity in comparison to large down-stream confluences. Our results show that disturbance-mediated slowing down of competitive exclusion can generate a specific transient signature in terms of biodiversity distribution when applied over a spatial gradient of disturbance, which is a common feature of many river landscapes.

Abstract

Global analyses of biodiversity consistently reveal recurrent patterns of species distributions worldwide. However, unveiling the specific mechanisms behind those patterns remains logistically challenging, yet necessary for reliable biodiversity forecasts. Here, we combine theory and experiments to investigate the processes underlying spatial biodiversity patterns in dendritic, river-like landscapes, iconic examples of highly threatened ecosys- tems. We used geometric scaling properties, common to all rivers, to show that the distribution of biodiversity in these landscapes fundamentally depends on how ecological selection is modulated across space: while uni- form ecological selection across the network leads to higher diversity in downstream confluences, this pattern can be inverted by disturbances when population turnover (i.e. local mortality) is higher upstream than downstream. Higher turnover in small headwater patches can slow down ecological selection, increasing local diversity in comparison to large down-stream confluences. Our results show that disturbance-mediated slowing down of competitive exclusion can generate a specific transient signature in terms of biodiversity distribution when applied over a spatial gradient of disturbance, which is a common feature of many river landscapes.

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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)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Immunology and Microbiology
Physical Sciences > General Environmental Science
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords:metacommunity, dendritic networks, biodiversity, patch size, perturbations
Language:English
Date:12 December 2018
Deposited On:31 Jul 2019 09:41
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 11:00
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:0962-8452
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2018.2441
Official URL:https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2018.2441
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDPP00P3_150698
  • : Project TitleBridging biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in dendritic networks: a meta-ecosystem perspective
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDPP00P3_179089
  • : Project TitleBridging biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: a meta-ecosystem perspective

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