The spatial synchrony of species richness and its relationship to ecosystem stability.


Walter, J. A.,Shoemaker, L. G.,Lany, N. K.,Castorani, M. C. N.,Fey, S. B.,Dudney, J. C.,Gherardi, L.,Portales-Reyes, C.,Rypel, A. L.,Cottingham, K. L.,Suding, K. N.,Reuman, D. C., andHallett, L. M.




Synchrony is broadly important to population and community dynamics due to its ubiquity and implications for extinction dynamics, system stability, and species diversity. Investigations of synchrony in community ecology have tended to focus on covariance in the abundances of multiple species in a single location. Yet, the importance of regional environmental variation and spatial processes in community dynamics suggests that community properties, such as species richness, could fluctuate synchronously across patches in a metacommunity, in an analog of population spatial synchrony. Here, we test the prevalence of this phenomenon and the conditions under which it may occur using theoretical simulations and empirical data from 20 marine and terrestrial metacommunities. Additionally, given the importance of biodiversity for stability of ecosystem function, we posit that spatial synchrony in species richness is strongly related to stability. Our findings show that metacommunities often exhibit spatial synchrony in species richness. We also found that richness synchrony can be driven by environmental stochasticity and dispersal, two mechanisms of population spatial synchrony. Richness synchrony also depended on community structure, including species evenness and beta diversity. Strikingly, ecosystem stability was more strongly related to richness synchrony than to species richness itself, likely because richness synchrony integrates information about community processes and environmental forcing. Our study highlights a new approach for studying spatiotemporal community dynamics and emphasizes the spatial dimensions of community dynamics and stability.





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Journal Article

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