3 years ago

Community divergence and convergence along experimental gradients of stress and disturbance.

Bill Shipley, Yuanzhi Li
We created 24 mesocosms containing mixtures of herbaceous species arranged along experimentally maintained gradients of stress (external abiotic constraints limiting biomass production) and disturbance (events causing partial or total live biomass destruction) in order to determine the degree to which community assembly is deterministic or historically contingent during succession. In this seven-year experiment, we found taxonomic divergence and functional convergence during the last three years. Although communities became more functionally dissimilar as the difference in the level of stress increased, they were equally taxonomically different irrespective of the amount of difference between them in terms of stress and disturbance. In addition, comparing communities experiencing the same conditions, taxonomic community structure was more dissimilar as the levels of stress and disturbance decreased. Therefore, community assembly was largely deterministic from a functional perspective but more historically contingent from a taxonomic perspective, and the relative importance of taxonomic historical contingency decreased as the levels of stress and disturbance frequency increased. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Publisher URL: http://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.2162

DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2162

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