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Ecology. 2008 Jul;89(7):1921-30.

On the relationship between regional and local species richness: a test of saturation theory.

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Biodiversity Research Centre, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver BC V6T1Z4, Canada.


What are the local community consequences of changes in regional species richness and composition? To answer this question we followed the assembly of microarthropod communities in defaunated areas of moss, embedded in a larger moss "region." Regions were created by combining moss from spatially distinct sites, resulting in regional species pools that differed in both microarthropod richness and composition, but not area. Regional effects were less important than seasonality for local richness. Initial differences in regional richness had no direct effect on local species richness at any time along a successional gradient of 0.5-16 months. The structure of the regional pool affected both local richness and local composition, but these effects were seasonally dependent. Local species richness differed substantially between dates along the successional gradient and continued to increase 16 months after assembly began. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first critical test of saturation theory that experimentally manipulates regional richness. Further, our results failed to support the most important mechanisms proposed to explain the local richness-regional richness relationship. The results demonstrate that complicated interactions between assembly time, seasonality, and regional species pools contribute to structuring local species richness and composition in this community.

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