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Neutrality and the response of rare species to environmental variance
Benedetti-Cecchi, L.; Bertocci, I.; Vaselli, S.; Maggi, E.; Bulleri, F. (2008). Neutrality and the response of rare species to environmental variance. PLoS One 3(7): 1-9.
In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203; e-ISSN 1932-6203, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Taxa > Species > Rare species

Authors  Top 
  • Benedetti-Cecchi, L., more
  • Bertocci, I., more
  • Vaselli, S., more

    Neutral models and differential responses of species to environmental heterogeneity offer complementary explanations of species abundance distribution and dynamics. Under what circumstances one model prevails over the other is still a matter of debate. We show that the decay of similarity over time in rocky seashore assemblages of algae and invertebrates sampled over a period of 16 years was consistent with the predictions of a stochastic model of ecological drift at time scales larger than 2 years, but not at time scales between 3 and 24 months when similarity was quantified with an index that reflected changes in abundance of rare species. A field experiment was performed to examine whether assemblages responded neutrally or non-neutrally to changes in temporal variance of disturbance. The experimental results did not reject neutrality, but identified a positive effect of intermediate levels of environmental heterogeneity on the abundance of rare species. This effect translated into a marked decrease in the characteristic time scale of species turnover, highlighting the role of rare species in driving assemblage dynamics in fluctuating environments.

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