Interactions between assembly order and temperature can alter both short- and long-term community composition
Article first published online: 28 NOV 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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Ecology and Evolution
Volume 3, Issue 16, pages 5201–5208, December 2013
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2013; 3(16): 5201–5208
- Issue published online: 22 DEC 2013
- Article first published online: 28 NOV 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 29 OCT 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 26 OCT 2013
- Manuscript Received: 6 SEP 2013
- Natural Environment Research Council. Grant Number: NE/H018700/1
- Zoological Society of London
- Community assembly;
- global warming;
- priority effects;
- protist microcosm;
Both the order in which species arrive in a community, and environmental conditions, such as temperature, are known to affect community structure. Little is known, however, about the potential for, and occurrence of, interactions between assembly history and the environment. Of particular, interest may be the interaction between temperature and community assembly dynamics, especially in the light of predicted global climatic change and the fundamental processes that are governed, through metabolic rate, by an individual's environmental temperature. We present, to our knowledge, the first experimental exploration of how the influence of assembly history, temperature, and the interaction between the two alters the structure of communities of competitors, using small-scale protist microcosm communities where temperature and assembly order were manipulated factorially. In our experiment, the most important driver of long-term abundance was temperature but long-lasting assembly order effects influenced the relationship between temperature and abundance. Any advantage of early colonization proved to be short-lived, and there was rarely any long-term advantage to colonizing a habitat before other species. The results presented here suggest that environmental conditions shape community composition, but that occasionally temperature could interact with the stochastic nature of community assembly to significantly alter future community composition, especially where temperature change has been large. This could have important implications for the dynamics of both rare and invasive species.