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Community-level regulation of temporal trends in biodiversity

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Many theoretical models of community dynamics predict that species richness (S) and total abundance (N) are regulated in their temporal fluctuations. Here we present novel evidence for widespread regulation of biodiversity. For 59 plant and animal assemblages from around the globe monitored annually for a decade or more, the majority exhibited regulated fluctuations compared to the null hypothesis of an unconstrained random walk. However, there was little evidence for statistical artifacts, regulation driven by correlations with average annual temperature, or local-scale compensatory fluctuations in S or N. In the absence of major environmental perturbations such as urbanization or cropland transformation, species richness and abundance may be buffered and exhibit some resilience in their temporal trajectories. These results suggest that regulatory processes are occurring in spite of unprecedented environmental change, highlighting the need for community-level assessment of biodiversity trends, as well as extensions of existing theory to address open source pools and shifting environmental conditions.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1700315
Number of pages8
JournalScience Advances
Issue number7
StatePublished - 26 Jul 2017

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