Species interactions determine the spatial mortality patterns emerging in plant communities after extreme events

Abstract

Gap disturbance is assumed to maintain species diversity by creating environmental heterogeneity. However, little is known about how interactions with neighbours, such as competition and facilitation, alter the emerging gap patterns after extreme events. Using a spatially explicit community model we demonstrate that negative interactions, especially intraspecific competition, greatly promote both average gap size and gap-size diversity relative to positive interspecific interaction. This suggests that competition would promote diversity maintenance but also increase community invasibility, as large gaps with a wide size variety provide more diverse niches for both local and exotic species. Under interspecific competition, both gap metrics interestingly increased with species richness, while they were reduced under intraspecific competition. Having a wider range of species interaction strengths led to a smaller average gap size only under intraspecific competition. Increasing conspecific clumping induced larger gaps with more variable sizes under intraspecific competition, in contrast to interspecific competition. Given the range of intraspecific clumping in real communities, models or experiments based on randomly synthesized communities may yield biased estimates of the opportunities for potential colonizers to fill gaps. Overall, our "static" model on gap formation offers perspectives to better predict recolonization opportunity and thus community secondary succession under extreme event regimes.

DOI: 10.1038/srep11229

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Liao2015SpeciesID, title={Species interactions determine the spatial mortality patterns emerging in plant communities after extreme events}, author={Jinbao Liao and Jan Bogaert and Ivan Nijs}, booktitle={Scientific reports}, year={2015} }