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Ecology. 2012 Apr;93(4):704-10.

Landscape connectivity strengthens local-regional richness relationships in successional plant communities.

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Department of Zoology, 451 Birge Hall, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Local species diversity is maintained over ecological time by a balance between dispersal and species interactions. Local-regional species richness relationships are often used to investigate the relative importance of these two processes and the scales at which they operate. For communities undergoing succession, theory predicts a temporal progression in local-regional species richness relationships: from no relationship to positive linear to saturating. However, observational tests have been mixed, and experiments have been rare. Using a replicated large-scale experiment, we evaluate the impact of two dispersal-governing processes at the regional scale, connectivity and shape of the region (i.e., patches), on the progression of local-regional species richness relationships for plant communities undergoing succession. Regional connectivity accelerates the transition from no relationship to a positive linear relationship, while the shape of the region has no consistent effect nine years post-disturbance. Our results experimentally demonstrate the importance of dispersal in structuring local-regional species richness relationships over time and suggest that conservation corridors among regions can increase local diversity through regional enrichment of plant communities undergoing reassembly.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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