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Species richness–variability relationships in multi-trophic aquatic microcosms


  • Richard J. Vogt,

  • Tamara N. Romanuk,

  • Jurek Kolasa

R. J. Vogt, T. N. Romanuk and J. Kolasa, Dept of Biology, McMaster Univ., 1280 Main Street, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, L8S4K1. Present address for RJV and TNR: Dépt des sciences biologiques, Univ. du Québec à Montréal, CP 8888, Succ. Centre Ville, Montréal, QC, Canada, H3C 3P8 ( and TNR: Pacific Ecoinformatics and Computational Ecology Lab, PO Box 10106, Berkeley, CA 94709, USA.


While species loss may affect the temporal variability of populations and communities differently in multi- versus single-trophic level communities, the nature of these differences are poorly understood. Here, we report on an experiment where we manipulated species richness of multi-trophic rock pool invertebrate communities to determine the effects of species richness, S, on the temporal variability of communities, populations, and individual species. As in single-trophic level studies, temporal variability in community abundance decreased with increasing species richness. However, in contrast to most studies in single-trophic level systems, temporal variability of populations also decreased as species richness increased. Furthermore, the variability of the constituent populations strongly correlated with variability of community abundance suggesting that, in rock pools, S affects community variability through its stabilizing effect on component populations. Our results suggest that species loss may affect population and community variability differently in multi-trophic versus single trophic level communities. If this is so, then the mechanisms proposed to underlie the effects of S on community variability in single-trophic communities may have to be supplemented by those that describe contributions to population stability in order to fully describe the patterns observed in multi-trophic communities.