Livingston G.,Matias W.M., Calcagno C., Barbera C., Combe M., Leibold M. and Mouquet N. (2012).

Nature Communication, 3, 1234, doi:10.1038/ncomms2239

Key message :One of the simplest hypotheses used to explain species coexistence is the competition-colonization trade-off, that is, species can stably coexist in a landscape if they show a trade-off between competitive and colonization abilities. Despite extensive theory, the dynamics predicted to result from competition-colonization trade-offs are largely untested. Landscape change, such as habitat destruction, is thought to greatly influence coexistence under competition-colonization dynamics, although there is no formal test of this prediction. Here we present the first illustration of competition–colonization dynamics that fully transposes theory into a controlled experimental metacommunity of two Pseudomonas bacterial strains. The competition-colonization dynamics were achieved by directly manipulating trade-off strength and colonization rates to generate the full range of coexistence conditions and responses to habitat destruction. Our study successfully generates competition-colonization dynamics matching theoretical predictions, and our results further reveal a negative relationship between diversity and productivity when scaling up to entire metacommunities.

A. Effect of trade-off strength on equilibrium patch occupancy by strain. Each point indicates the average proportion of occupied patches by each strain in each replicate (averages of transfers eight to ten in our experiment). The competitor dilution reduction factor represents the proportional reduction in the overnight culture volume of the competitor before dilution (the strength of the trade-off in terms of reduced colonization rate). B. Total metacommunity productivity and Shannon diversity. Points are averages from each replicate in the 14 main experimental treatments over transfers 8–10. Circle sizes are proportional to the mean patch occupancy of each strain (see scale in the figure).

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OTHER TOPICS: Aesthetics of Biodiversity, Biodiversity & Ecosystem Functioning, Biogeography, Macroecology & Ecophylogenetics, Experimental Evolution, Functional Biogeography, Functional Rarity, Metacommunities, Metaecosystems, Reviews and Synthesis, Trophic Biogeography & Metaweb