Data from: Trophic structure modulates community rescue following acidification
Community rescue occurs when a community that experiences a lethal stress persists only through the spread of rare types, either genotypes or species, resistant to the stress. Rescue interacts with trophic structure because a physical stress experienced by a focal assemblage within the community may also be experienced by its predators and prey. In general, trophic structure will facilitate rescue only when a stress has a less severe effect on a focal assemblage than on its predators. In other circumstances, when stress affects prey or has only a weak effect on predators, trophic structure is likely to hamper rescue. We exposed a community of phytoplankton and zooplankton derived from a natural lake to acidification in outdoor mesocosms large enough to support trophically complex communities. Rescue of the phytoplankton from severe acidification was facilitated by prior exposure to sublethal stress, confirming previous results from microcosm experiments. Even communities that have previously been less highly stressed were eventually rescued, however, probably because their zooplankton predators were more sensitive to acidification and became extinct. Our experiment shows how community rescue following severe stress is modulated by the differential effect of the stress relative to trophic level.