Temporal Changes in Randomness of Bird Communities across Central Europe

Renner, Swen C.; Gossner, Martin M.; Kahl, Tiemo; Kalko, Elisabeth K. V.; Weisser, Wolfgang W.; Fischer, Markus; Allan, Eric (2014). Temporal Changes in Randomness of Bird Communities across Central Europe. PLoS ONE, 9(11), e112347. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0112347

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Many studies have examined whether communities are structured by random or deterministic processes, and both are likely to play a role, but relatively few studies have attempted to quantify the degree of randomness in species composition. We quantified, for the first time, the degree of randomness in forest bird communities based on an analysis of spatial autocorrelation in three regions of Germany. The compositional dissimilarity between pairs of forest patches was regressed against the distance between them. We then calculated the y-intercept of the curve, i.e. the ‘nugget’, which represents the compositional dissimilarity at zero spatial distance. We therefore assume, following similar work on plant communities, that this represents the degree of randomness in species composition. We then analysed how the degree of randomness in community composition varied over time and with forest management intensity, which we expected to reduce the importance of random processes by increasing the strength of environmental drivers. We found that a high portion of the bird community composition could be explained by chance (overall mean of 0.63), implying that most of the variation in local bird community composition is driven by stochastic processes. Forest management intensity did not consistently affect the mean degree of randomness in community composition, perhaps because the bird communities were relatively insensitive to management intensity. We found a high temporal variation in the degree of randomness, which may indicate temporal variation in assembly processes and in the importance of key environmental drivers. We conclude that the degree of randomness in community composition should be considered in bird community studies, and the high values we find may indicate that bird community composition is relatively hard to predict at the regional scale.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Biodiversity

UniBE Contributor:

Fischer, Markus and Allan, Eric

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)

ISSN:

1932-6203

Publisher:

Public Library of Science

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

23 Dec 2014 13:30

Last Modified:

23 Dec 2014 13:30

Publisher DOI:

10.1371/journal.pone.0112347

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.61290

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/61290

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