Testing the stress-gradient hypothesis with aquatic detritivorous invertebrates: insights for biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research
Article first published online: 1 MAY 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Journal of Animal Ecology © 2012 British Ecological Society
Journal of Animal Ecology
Volume 81, Issue 6, pages 1259–1267, November 2012
How to Cite
Fugère, V., Andino, P., Espinosa, R., Anthelme, F., Jacobsen, D. and Dangles, O. (2012), Testing the stress-gradient hypothesis with aquatic detritivorous invertebrates: insights for biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research. Journal of Animal Ecology, 81: 1259–1267. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2012.01994.x
- Issue published online: 29 OCT 2012
- Article first published online: 1 MAY 2012
- Received 6 September 2011; accepted 20 March 2012 Handling Editor: Guy Woodward
- aquatic invertebrates;
- ecosystem function;
- environmental stress facilitation;
- litter decomposition;
- specific leaf area
1. The stress-gradient hypothesis (SGH) states that environmental stress modulates species interactions, causing a shift from negative interactions to net positive interactions with increasing stress.
2. Potentially, this modulation of species interactions could in turn influence biodiversity-ecosystem function (B-EF) relationships along stress gradients. Although the SGH has been extensively discussed in plant community ecology in the past two decades, it has received little attention from animal ecologists.
3. To explore whether the SGH could be applied to animal communities, we conducted a litter decomposition experiment with aquatic detritivorous invertebrates in which we manipulated litter quality and measured species interactions along this resource quality gradient. Litter quality was manipulated by presenting detritivores with leaves of plant species varying in specific leaf area and decomposition rate in streams.
4. We found a switch from negative to neutral interactions with increasing resource quality stress, in line with the SGH. However, by re-examining other published results with aquatic detritivores from the perspective of the SGH, we found that a diversity of patterns seem to characterize detritivore interactions along stress gradients.
5. Although the basic pattern proposed by the SGH may not apply to animal systems in general, we show that aquatic detritivore interactions do change along stress gradients, which underlines the importance of incorporating environmental stressors more explicitly in B-EF research.