Multiple Diversity-Stability Mechanisms Enhance Population and Community Stability in Aquatic Food Webs
Biodiversity has been shown to increase the temporal stability of community and ecosystem attributes through multiple mechanisms, but these same mechanisms make less consistent predictions about the effects of richness on population stability. The overall effects of biodiversity on population and community stability will therefore depend on the dominant mechanisms that are likely to vary with the nature of biodiversity loss and the degree of environmental variability. We conducted a mesocosm experiment in which we generated a gradient in zooplankton species richness by directly manipulating dominant species and by allowing/preventing immigration from a metacommunity. The mesocosms were maintained under either constant or variable nutrient environments. Population, community, and ecosystem data were collected for five months. We found that zooplankton population and community stability is enhanced in species‐rich communities in both constant and variable environments. Species richness increased primarily through the addition of species with low abundance. The communities that were connected to a metacommunity via immigration were the most diverse and the most stable, indicating the importance of both metacommunity dynamics and rare species for stability. We found little evidence for selection effects or overyielding as stabilizing forces. We did find support for asynchronous dynamics and statistical averaging, both of which predict destabilizing effects at the population level. We also found support for weak interactions, which predicts that both populations and communities will become more stable as richness increases. In order to understand the effects of biodiversity loss on stability, we will need to understand when different stabilizing mechanisms tend to operate but also how multiple mechanisms interact.
Downing, Amy L.; Brown, Bryan; and Leibold, Matthew, "Multiple Diversity-Stability Mechanisms Enhance Population and Community Stability in Aquatic Food Webs" (2014). Zoology Faculty Work. 53.
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