AB - Vol. 17 No. 3 - Feature article

Community stability. Effect of 2 stressors (S 1 and S 2) on community status. Resilience is determined by the rate of recovery, resistance by the net change in community status. Diagram: H. Hillebrand and S. Flöder

Flöder S, Hillebrand H


Species traits and species diversity affect community stability in a multiple stressor framework


The diversity–stability hypothesis has been strongly debated and often referred to, but there have been few experimental tests. The present study breaks new ground (1) by testing this hypothesis in a multiple stressor framework, and (2) by comparing the effects of species richness and species identity. Diversity effects were compared in 2 species combinations, one including a species that was highly resistant and which rapidly recovered in pre-trials. The results suggest that the interdependence of stressor regime, species traits, and species richness determines which mechanisms stabilise communities. If dominant species remain the best performers regardless of disturbance, stability will depend on population dynamics of these species. If dominant species become rare or lost, stability will depend on biodiversity through compensatory growth of rare species.


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