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The ghost of disturbance past: long-term effects of pulse disturbances on community biomass and composition


Jacquet, Claire; Altermatt, Florian (2020). The ghost of disturbance past: long-term effects of pulse disturbances on community biomass and composition. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 287(1930):20200678.

Abstract

Current global change is associated with an increase in disturbance frequency and intensity, with the potential to trigger population collapses and to cause permanent transitions to new ecosystem states. However, our understanding of ecosystem responses to disturbances is still incomplete. Specifically, there is a mismatch between the diversity of disturbance regimes experienced by ecosystems and the one-dimensional description of disturbances used in most studies on ecological stability. To fill this gap, we conducted a full factorial experiment on microbial communities, where we varied the frequency and intensity of disturbances affecting species mortality, resulting in 20 different disturbance regimes. We explored the direct and long-term effects of these disturbance regimes on community biomass. While most communities were able to recover biomass and composition states similar to undisturbed controls after a halt of the disturbances, we identified some disturbance thresholds that had long-lasting legacies on communities. Using a model based on logistic growth, we identified qualitatively the sets of disturbance frequency and intensity that had equivalent long-term negative impacts on experimental communities. Our results show that an increase in disturbance intensity is a bigger threat for biodiversity and biomass recovery than the occurrence of more frequent but less intense disturbances.

Abstract

Current global change is associated with an increase in disturbance frequency and intensity, with the potential to trigger population collapses and to cause permanent transitions to new ecosystem states. However, our understanding of ecosystem responses to disturbances is still incomplete. Specifically, there is a mismatch between the diversity of disturbance regimes experienced by ecosystems and the one-dimensional description of disturbances used in most studies on ecological stability. To fill this gap, we conducted a full factorial experiment on microbial communities, where we varied the frequency and intensity of disturbances affecting species mortality, resulting in 20 different disturbance regimes. We explored the direct and long-term effects of these disturbance regimes on community biomass. While most communities were able to recover biomass and composition states similar to undisturbed controls after a halt of the disturbances, we identified some disturbance thresholds that had long-lasting legacies on communities. Using a model based on logistic growth, we identified qualitatively the sets of disturbance frequency and intensity that had equivalent long-term negative impacts on experimental communities. Our results show that an increase in disturbance intensity is a bigger threat for biodiversity and biomass recovery than the occurrence of more frequent but less intense disturbances.

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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:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, General Immunology and Microbiology, General Agricultural and Biological Sciences, General Environmental Science, General Medicine
Language:English
Date:8 July 2020
Deposited On:07 Oct 2020 08:49
Last Modified:26 Oct 2020 09:24
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:0962-8452
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.0678
Related URLs:https://www.gcb.uzh.ch/en/Research/Phase-II-Projects/Landscapes/Project-2-Florian-Altermatt.html
Project Information:

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