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Disturbance and change in biodiversity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Understanding how disturbance affects biodiversity is important for both fundamental and applied reasons. Here, I investigate how disturbances with different ecological effects change biodiversity metrics. I define three main types of disturbance effects: D disturbance (shifts in mortality rate), B disturbance (shifts in reproductive rates) and K disturbance (shifts in carrying capacity). Numerous composite disturbances can be defined including any combination of these three types of ecological effects. The consequences of D, B and K disturbances, as well as of composite DBK disturbances are examined by comparing metrics before and after a disturbance, in disturbed and undisturbed communities. I use simulations of neutral communities and examine species richness, total abundance and species abundance distributions. The patterns of change in biodiversity metrics are consistent among different types of disturbance. K disturbance has the most severe effects, followed by D disturbance, and B disturbance has nearly negligible effects. Consequences of composite DBK disturbances are more complex than any of the three types of disturbance, with unimodal relationships along a disturbance gradient arising when D, B and K are negatively correlated. Importantly, regardless of disturbance type, community isolation enhances the negative consequences and hinders the positive effects of disturbances.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3719-3727
Number of pages9
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences
Volume365
Issue number1558
DOIs
StatePublished - 27 Nov 2010

    Research areas

  • perturbation, species richness, neutral model, stress, threat, diversity, species abundance distributions, neutral theory, rain-forests, coral-reefs, communities, ecology, productivity, pollution, patterns

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