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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. dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0002777
In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

Keywords
    Environments; Rare species; Marine

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

Abstract
    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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