Pattern of species occurrence in detritus-based communities with variable connectivity
Dept. of Ecology and Sustainable Economic Development, Univ. of Viterbo, L. go dell’Univ., Blocco C snc, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
Abstract. Patterns and mechanisms of species occurrence in space and time are outstanding questions in community and conservation ecology. Much of the current debate focuses on randomness or non-randomness in the structuring process of ecological communities, and the extent to which local/deterministic or regional/stochastic processes may drive their composition. However, a categorical subdivision could be misleading, as community composition may be driven by a continuum between neutral- and niche-based processes. For instance, in spatially structured systems local processes may surpass regional processes over time or across space to derive non-random metacommunity structure, suggesting the filtering role of the environment in mediating the pattern of species occurrence. In this work we study the temporal composition of detritus-based communities, which are an essential component in many aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. We used data about macroinvertebrate colonization of leaf detritus in different sites of a patchy-connected system, to measure the co-occurrence of species on the detrital resource and evaluate the role of the spatial configuration and the environmental variability in determining the community’s composition. Our results show the importance of considering the joint role of regional and local processes in mediating stochastic and deterministic mechanisms in species assemblage, with important outcomes from a conservation point of view.
Bellisario, B., Cerfolli, F., and Nascetti, G.: Pattern of species occurrence in detritus-based communities with variable connectivity, Web Ecol., 11, 1-9, doi:10.5194/we-11-1-2011, 2011.