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Species’ traits predict the effects of disturbance and productivity on diversity

Authors

  • Nick M. Haddad,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Zoology, North Carolina State University, PO Box 7617, Raleigh, NC 27695-7617, USA
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  • Marcel Holyoak,

    1. Environmental Science and Policy, 1 Shields Ave, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA
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  • Tawny M. Mata,

    1. Environmental Science and Policy, 1 Shields Ave, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA
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  • Kendi F. Davies,

    1. Environmental Science and Policy, 1 Shields Ave, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA
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    • Present address: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, UCB 334, Boulder CO 80309, USA.

  • Brett A. Melbourne,

    1. Environmental Science and Policy, 1 Shields Ave, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA
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    • Present address: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, UCB 334, Boulder CO 80309, USA.

  • Kim Preston

    1. Environmental Science and Policy, 1 Shields Ave, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA
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*E-mail: nick_haddad@ncsu.edu

Abstract

Disturbance is an important factor influencing diversity patterns. Ecological theory predicts that diversity peaks at intermediate levels of disturbance, but this pattern is not present in a majority of empirical tests and can be influenced by the level of ecosystem productivity. We experimentally tested the effects of disturbance on diversity and show that species’ autecological traits and community relations predicted species loss. We found that – alone or in concert – increasing disturbance intensity or frequency, or decreasing productivity, reduced diversity. Our species did not exhibit a clear competition-colonization trade-off, and intrinsic growth rate was a more important predictor of response to disturbance and productivity than measures of competitive ability. Furthermore, competitive ability was more important in predicting responses when, in addition to killing individuals, disturbance returned nutrients to the ecosystem. Our results demonstrate that species’ traits can help resolve conflicting patterns in the response of diversity to disturbance and productivity.

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