Intransitive competition is widespread in plant communities and maintains their species richness

Soliveres, Santiago; Maestre, Fernando T.; Ulrich, Werner; Manning, Peter; Boch, Steffen; Bowker, Matthew A.; Prati, Daniel; Delgado-Baquerizo, Manuel; Quero, José L.; Schöning, Ingo; Gallardo, Antonio; Weisser, Wolfgang; Müller, Jörg; Socher, Stephanie; García-Gómez, Miguel; Ochoa, Victoria; Schulze, Ernst-Detlef; Fischer, Markus; Allan, Eric and Holyoak, Marcel (2015). Intransitive competition is widespread in plant communities and maintains their species richness. Ecology Letters, 18(8), pp. 790-798. WILEY 10.1111/ele.12456

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Intransitive competition networks, those in which there is no single best competitor, may ensure species coexistence. However, their frequency and importance in maintaining diversity in real-world ecosystems remain unclear. We used two large data sets from drylands and agricultural grasslands to assess: (1) the generality of intransitive competition, (2) intransitivity–richness relationships and (3) effects of two major drivers of biodiversity loss (aridity and land-use intensification) on intransitivity and species richness. Intransitive competition occurred in > 65% of sites and was associated with higher species richness. Intransitivity increased with aridity, partly buffering its negative effects on diversity, but was decreased by intensive land use, enhancing its negative effects on diversity. These contrasting responses likely arise because intransitivity is promoted by temporal heterogeneity, which is enhanced by aridity but may decline with land-use intensity. We show that intransitivity is widespread in nature and increases diversity, but it can be lost with environmental homogenisation.

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:

Soliveres, Santiago; Manning, Peter; Boch, Steffen; Prati, Daniel; Socher, Stephanie; Fischer, Markus and Allan, Eric

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

1461-023X

Publisher:

WILEY

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

26 Aug 2015 09:55

Last Modified:

09 Sep 2017 18:46

Publisher DOI:

10.1111/ele.12456

PubMed ID:

26032242

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Aridity; biodiversity; coexistence; drylands; land use; mesic grasslands; rock-paper-scissors game

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.71171

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/71171

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