Massol, F., Altermatt, F., Gounand, I., Gravel, D., Leibold, M.A. and Mouquet, N., Casatti, L., Menin, M., de Cerqueira Rossa Feres, D. & Helene Albert, C.H. (2019).

Oikos,126,532-546, doi:10.1111/oik.03893

Key message : Here, we argue that some ecosystem properties can be linked to a single life-history trait, dispersal, i.e. the tendency of organisms to live, compete and reproduce away from their birth place. By articulating recent theoretical and empirical studies linking ecosystem functioning and dynamics to species dispersal, we aim to highlight both the known connections between life-history traits and ecosystem properties and the unknown areas, which deserve further empirical and theoretical developments.

Links between dispersal and primary productivity according to meta-ecosystem theory (Loreau et al. 2003a, Mouquet and Loreau 2003, Gravel et al. 2010a). On the left-hand side of the diagram, dispersal of consumers, detritus and producers, seen as fluxes of material and energy, tends to increase the amount of biomass in scarcely populated patches and thus, through nutrient recycling, to decrease the spatial heterogeneity in nutrient stocks among patches (blue arrow with a minus sign). Diffusion of the basal resource, nutrients (Gounand et al. 2014), or producers seen as basal resource (Pedersen et al. 2016), on the other hand, will create a source-sink movement from low-productivity patches to already highly productive patches, thus aggravating the spatial heterogeneity of resource stocks among patches (blue arrow with a plus sign). Spatially heterogeneous distribution of a single resource results in a negative effect on primary productivity (quantitative heterogeneity). On the right-hand side of the diagram, dispersal of primary producers seen as a demographic rate generally decreases local adaptation of primary producers, but primary productivity provided by the community of primary producers gains insurance against temporal variability of the environment. Dispersal thus increases productivity at the regional scale when the environment is temporally variable, but decreases it when it is spatially heterogeneous (green arrows going through spatial heterogeneity and spatial variability of limiting factors); the combination of the two results in a hump-shaped link between dispersal and productivity. The blue arrows on the right-hand side of the diagram represent the potential demographic effects of consumer dispersal on limiting factor variability in time and space.

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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