Successional convergence in experimentally disturbed intertidal communities
Determining the causes of variation in community assembly is a central question in ecology. Analysis of β-diversity can provide insight by relating the extent of regional to local variation in diversity, allowing inference of the relative importance of deterministic versus stochastic processes. We investigated the effects of disturbance timing on community assembly at three distinct regions with varying environmental conditions: Northern Portugal, Azores and Canaries. On the lower rocky intertidal, quadrats were experimentally cleared of biota at three distinct times of the year and community assembly followed for 1 year. Similar levels of α- and γ-diversity were found in all regions, which remained constant throughout succession. When Jaccard (incidence-based) and Bray–Curtis (abundance-based) metrics were used, β-diversity (the mean dissimilarity among plots cleared at the different times) was larger during early stages of community assembly but decreased over time. The adaptation of the Raup–Crick’s metric, which accounts for changes in species richness, showed that the structure of assemblages disturbed at different times of the year was similar to the null model of random community assembly during early stages of succession but became more similar than expected by chance. This pattern was observed in all regions despite differences in the regional species pool, suggesting that priority effects are likely weak and deterministic processes determine community structure despite stochasticity during early stages of community assembly.
KeywordsDiversity β-Diversity Deterministic Stochastic Community assembly
Funding was provided from National Funds through FCT—Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, under the project UID/BIA/00329/2013. GMM was supported by post-doctoral Grants awarded also by FCT (SFRH/BDP/63040/2009 and SFRH/BDP/108114/2015). Sampling at the Canary Islands was funded by the Spanish MINECO ‘Plan Nacional’ (ANTROTIDAL, CGL 2011-23833).
Author contribution statement
GMM, FA and SRJ conceived and designed the experiment. GMM, FA, FT, RR and AIN performed the experiment. GMM analysed the data and wrote the manuscript with contribution from FA, FT, RR, AIN and SRJ.
- Anderson MJ (2001) A new method for non-parametric multivariate analysis of variance. Aust Ecol 26:32–46Google Scholar
- Anderson MJ, Crist TO, Chase JM, Vellend M, Inouye BD, Freestone AL, Sanders NJ, Cornell HV, Comita LS, Davies KF, Harrison SP, Kraft NJB, Stegen JC, Swenson NG (2011) Navigating the multiple meanings of β-diversity: a roadmap for the practicing ecologist. Ecol Lett 14:19–28CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Clarke KR, Gorley RN (2006) PRIMER v6: user manual/tutorial. PRIMER-E, Plymouth, p 192Google Scholar
- Hillebrand H, Blasius B, Borer ET, Chase JM, Downing JA, Eriksson BK, Filstrup CT, Harpole WS, Hodapp D, Larsen S, Lewandowska AM, Seabloom EW, Van de Waal DB, Ryabov AB (2017) Biodiversity change is uncoupled from species richness trends: consequences for conservation and monitoring. J Appl Ecol. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12959 Google Scholar
- Hubbell SP (2001) The unified neutral theory of biodiversity and biogeography. Princeton University Press, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
- Jenkins SR, Martins GM (2010) Succession on hard substrata. In: Dürr S, Thomason JC (eds) Biofouling. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, pp 60–72Google Scholar
- Martins AM, Amorim ASB, Figueiredo MP, Sousa RJ, Mendonça AP, Bashmachnikov IL, Carvalho DS (2007) Sea surface temperature (AVHRR, MODIS) and ocean colour (MODIS) seasonal and interannual variability in the Macaronesian islands of Azores, Madeira, and Canaries. Proc SPIE 6743:67430A-1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Martins GM, Prestes ACL, Neto AI (2013) Effects of density versus size on grazing by a key exploited herbivore. Vie et Milieu 64:35–40Google Scholar
- Raup D, Crick RE (1979) Measurement of faunal similarity in paleontology. J Paleontol 53:1213–1227Google Scholar
- Sousa WP (1985) Disturbance and patch dynamics on rocky intertidal shores. In: Pickett STA, White PS (eds) The ecology of natural disturbance and patch dynamics. Academic Press, Orlando, pp 101–124Google Scholar