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Ecology. 2007 Jul;88(7):1696-706.

Metacommunity models predict the local-regional species richness relationship in a natural system.

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IRD, Laboratoire d'ecologie des hydrosystèmes fluviaux, Université Lyon 1, 43 Boulevard du 11 Novembre 1918, 69622 Villeurbanne, France.


Many natural communities exhibit positive relationships between local and regional species richness (LSR-RSR relationships), which can be either linear or curvilinear. Previous models have shown that the form of this relationship depends on the relative rates of colonization and extinction and the sensitivity of these rates to competition. We use simple models to show that the LSR-RSR relationship also depends on the type of metacommunity structure (Levins-like or mainland-island), and our models generate a wider range of realistic forms than do most previous models. We parameterize and test our models with two independent data sets for Daphnia in rock pools on islands in Finland and Sweden. We find that the Levins-like model with competition correctly predicts the observed LSR-RSR relationship and provides the best fit to the average local species richness per island. Simulations show that our models are robust to relaxing our assumption of identical species properties. Our study is one of the first to make and successfully test quantitative predictions for how a widely studied community pattern, the LSR-RSR relationship, arises from metacommunity dynamics.

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