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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 311:251-262 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/meps311251

Species diversity, invasion success, and ecosystem functioning: disentangling the influence of resource competition, facilitation, and extrinsic factors

John J. Stachowicz*, Jarrett E. Byrnes

Section of Evolution and Ecology and Center for Population Biology, University of California at Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA

ABSTRACT: Experimental manipulations and observational surveys often produce conflicting conclusions regarding the effects of native species diversity on community susceptibility to invasion. Both provide useful pieces of information, but typically each asks fundamentally different questions. Surveys tell us that locations with species-rich native communities are characterized by conditions that promote exotic species richness, whereas experiments tell us that, within a location, the loss of resident species increases the likelihood of the establishment of new species. In the present study, we apply observational data to a study of the consequences of species loss for invasion in order to assess the generality across scales and the relative importance of experimental results. We begin by using long-term recruitment data to explore how small-scale mechanisms of biotic resistance could operate on a landscape scale. We find that individual species have complementary seasonal recruitment patterns such that more diverse communities might be able to more consistently fill space that opens throughout the season, leading to reduced invasion success. However, field surveys of native and invader richness show that the slope of the relationship between native and invader diversity changes with the availability of resources (space) and the presence of habitat-forming foundation species. In these systems, biotic resistance appears to be important only when resources are scarce and foundation species are rare. Thus, we conclude that biotic resistance, as identified in experiments, is a consistent effect of diversity that can be explained mechanistically at even a landscape scale, but that it plays a dominant role only when total diversity is constrained by resource limitation. This situation is common in experimentally constructed communities, but may be less so in nature.

KEY WORDS: Diversity–invasibility · Sessile invertebrates · Competition · Facilitation · Recruitment · Temporal niche · Diversity–ecosystem functioning

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