Competitive exclusion, beta diversity, and deterministic vs. stochastic drivers of community assembly

Hila Segre, Ronen Ron, Niv De Malach, Zalmen Henkin, Micha Mandel, Ronen Kadmon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations

Abstract

Species diversity has two components - number of species and spatial turnover in species composition (beta-diversity). Using a field experiment focusing on a system of Mediterranean grasslands, we show that interspecific competition may influence the two components in the same direction or in opposite directions, depending on whether competitive exclusions are deterministic or stochastic. Deterministic exclusions reduce both patch-scale richness and beta-diversity, thereby homogenising the community. Stochastic extinctions reduce richness at the patch scale, but increase the differences in species composition among patches. These results indicate that studies of competitive effects on beta diversity may help to distinguish between deterministic and stochastic components of competitive exclusion. Such distinction is crucial for understanding the causal relationship between competition and species diversity, one of the oldest and most fundamental questions in ecology.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1400-1408
Number of pages9
JournalEcology Letters
Volume17
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS.

Keywords

  • Annual plants
  • Community ecology
  • Functional groups
  • Habitat productivity
  • Mediterranean grasslands
  • Niche vs. neutral processes
  • Plant competition
  • Removal experiment
  • Species diversity

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