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Ecology Letters: Disturbance result in community assemblages of closely related species
Author: Ai Chongrui
Update time: 2010-01-07
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 Ecological communities subject to severe or repeated disturbance are typically low in diversity and contain only stress species. Disturbance can be thought of as an environmental filter that selects for community members with key traits.

  Dr. Matthew Helmus, a postdoc at XTBG, made a hypothesis that disturbance should result in community assemblages of closely related species. The research observation entitled “Communities contain closely related species during ecosystem disturbance” has been published online in the prestigious journal Ecology Letters.

The authors tested the hypothesis with 18 disturbed and 16 reference whole-lake, long-term zooplankton data sets. When disturbed, communities generally contained more closely related species, regardless of disturbance type. They also discovered that the effect was independent of species richness, evenness, and abundance. Species sensitivities to specific disturbances were phylogenetically conserved, were independent of body size, and could be predicted by the sensitivities of close relatives within same community.

Thus, the authors propose phylogentetic relatedness to act as an effective proxy for missing trait information when predicting community and species responses to disturbance.



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