In ecology understanding variation in connectivity is central for how biodiversity is maintained. Field studies on dispersal and temporal dynamics in community regulating processes are, however, rare. We test the short-term temporal stability in community composition in a soft-sediment benthic community by determining among-sampling interval similarity in community composition. We relate stability to in situ measures of connectivity (wind, wave, current energy) and rates of dispersal (quantified in different trap types). Waves were an important predictor of when local community taxa are most likely to disperse in different trap-types, suggesting that wave energy is important for connectivity in a region. Community composition at the site was variable and changed stochastically over time. We found changes in community composition (occurrence, abundance, dominance) to be greater at times when connectivity and rates of dispersal were low. In response to periods of lower connectedness dominant taxa in the local community only exhibited change in their relative abundance. In contrast, locally less abundant taxa varied in both their presence, as well as in relative abundance. Constancy in connectivity and rates of dispersal promotes community stability and persistence, suggesting that local community composition will be impacted by changes in the spatial extent over which immigration and emigration operates in the region. Few empirical studies have actually measured dispersal directly in a multi-species context to demonstrate the role it plays in maintaining local community structure. Even though our study does not evaluate coexistence over demographic time scales, it importantly demonstrates that dispersal is not only important in initial recruitment or following a disturbance, but also key in maintaining local community composition.
Does Stability in Local Community Composition Depend on Temporal Variation in Rates of Dispersal and Connectivity?
Title: Does Stability in Local Community Composition Depend on Temporal Variation in Rates of Dispersal and Connectivity?
April 01, 2015
Journal: Journal of Sea Research
Valanko, S.; Norkko, J.; Norkko, A. (2015). Does Stability in Local Community Composition Depend on Temporal Variation in Rates of Dispersal and Connectivity?. Journal of Sea Research, 98, 24-32.