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Data from: The influence of dispersal on the realized trajectory of a pond metacommunity


Hanly, Patrick J.; Mittelbach, Gary G. (2017), Data from: The influence of dispersal on the realized trajectory of a pond metacommunity, Dryad, Dataset,


Dispersal rates play a critical role in metacommunity dynamics, yet few studies have attempted to characterize dispersal rates for the majority of species in any natural community. Here we evaluate the relationship between the abundances of 179 plankton taxa in a pond metacommunity and their dispersal rates. We find the expected positive relationship between the regional abundances of phytoplankton, protozoa and metazoan zooplankton, which is suggestive of dispersal being a density-independent per capita rate for these groups. When we tested to see if the rates of dispersing taxa predicted changes in community composition, we found that dispersers had no measurable impact on the short-term trajectory of local pond communities or mesocosm communities established experimentally (assembled communities), but became increasingly represented in the overall pond metacommunity during the course of the full growing season. In comparison, the composition of experimental mesocosms that lacked any initial zooplankton community (unassembled communities) were found to be driven by dispersal measured at the local pond community but not by dispersal observed across the overall metacommunity. These results suggest that the role of dispersal may shift from a contributor to local, ecological dynamics to that of metacommunity-wide, colonization–extinction dynamics as communities assemble.

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Lux Arbor Reserve