1. Many current biodiversity theories assume that resource competition determines niche segregation and thus coexistence within communities (i.e. at the alpha-scale). However, the action of disturbance, creating heterogeneous environments and suppressing potential dominants, may also be important for biodiversity maintenance. 2. Hypothesis: subordinate species exhibit primarily opportunistic (ruderal) survival strategies, with increasing disturbance intensity constraining dominant species - favouring opportunistic strategies and thus functional and species diversity. 3. The diversity, character and frequency of strategies in an alpine sedge-dominated vascular plant community were quantified in situ using CSR (competitor, stress-tolerator, ruderal) classification, and compared with a pasture in the same alpine vegetation belt (i.e. with additional disturbance). Adaptive trends were confirmed by independent multivariate analysis [detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) and non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS)]. 4. The extremely stress-tolerant sedge Carex curvula (C : S : R = 17.2 : 72.9 : 9.9%) dominated the relatively undisturbed community (frequency = 52%), with 32 subordinates (typically < 5%) exhibiting a functional spectrum encompassing stress tolerance to ruderalism, but not competitive strategies. With grazing, the community exhibited weaker co-dominance by five species, greater biodiversity (76 species) and greater functional diversity, characterized by larger numbers of ruderals and some competitive-ruderals. The principal variation in both DCA1 and NMDS1 for both communities directly reflected CSR strategy spectra, confirmed by Spearman's correlation. 5. Dominance by stress-tolerators and restricted functional diversity demonstrates habitat-level (beta-scale) functional convergence in response to stress. A spectrum of S to R strategies demonstrates alpha-scale functional divergence in response to differential stress and disturbance. Grazing suppresses potentially dominant species and favours diversity, with the additional presence of competitive-ruderals suggestive of a more intricate niche topology including more relaxed abiotic opportunities. 6. Natural communities are not necessarily structured according to the rules of resource competition models, as these fail to account for disturbance and facilitation processes.
|Titolo:||Disturbance is a principal alpha-scale filter determining niche differentiation, coexistence and biodiversity in an alpine community|
|Autori interni:||CACCIANIGA, MARCO STEFANO|
|Parole Chiave:||Co-occurrence; Coexistence; CSR theory; Functional diversity index; Niche differentiation; Species richness|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore BIO/02 - Botanica Sistematica|
|Data di pubblicazione:||lug-2007|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1111/j.1365-2745.2007.01242.x|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01 - Articolo su periodico|