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Data from: Species interactions and environmental context affect intraspecific behavioural trait variation and ecosystem function

Citation

Cassidy, Camilla et al. (2020), Data from: Species interactions and environmental context affect intraspecific behavioural trait variation and ecosystem function, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.14t4h37

Abstract

Functional trait-based approaches are increasingly adopted to understand and project ecological responses to environmental change; however, most assume trait expression is constant between conspecifics irrespective of con- text. Using two species of benthic invertebrate (brittlestars Amphiura filiformis and A. chiajei), we demonstrate that trait expression at individual and com- munity levels differs with biotic and abiotic context. We use PERMANOVA to test the effect of species identity, density and local environmental history on individual (righting and burrowing) and community (particle reworking and burrow ventilation) trait expression, as well as associated effects on eco- system functioning (sediment nutrient release). Trait expression differs with context, with repercussions for the faunal mediation of ecosystem processes; we find increased rates of righting and burial behaviour and greater particle reworking with increasing density that are reflected in nutrient generation. However, the magnitude of effects differed within and between species, aris- ing from site-specific environmental and morphological differences. Our results indicate that traits and processes influencing change in ecosystem functioning are products of both prevailing and historic conditions that cannot be constrained within typologies. Trait-based study must incorporate context-dependent variation, including intraspecific differences from indi- vidual to ecosystem scales, to avoid jeopardizing projections of ecosystem functioning and service delivery.

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Funding

Natural Environment Research Council, Award: NE/L002531/1