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Data from: Compensatory dynamics of lotic algae break down nonlinearly with increasing nutrient enrichment

Cite this dataset

Cook, Stephen (2021). Data from: Compensatory dynamics of lotic algae break down nonlinearly with increasing nutrient enrichment [Dataset]. Dryad.


One important mechanism governing the temporal maintenance of biodiversity is asynchrony in cooccurring competitors due to fluctuating environments (i.e. compensatory dynamics). Temporal niche partitioning has evolved in response to predictable oscillations in environmental conditions so that species may offset competition, but we do not yet have a clear understanding of how novel anthropogenic stressors alter seasonal patterns of succession. Many primary producers are nutrient-limited, and enrichment may decrease the importance of environmental fluctuations that govern which species are effective competitors under naturally low nutrient regimes. Consequently, elevated nutrient concentrations may synchronize species responses to seasonality. By studying benthic algal assemblages over two years from 35 streams that spanned a wide gradient of nutrient enrichment, we found that compensatory dynamics characterizing seasonal succession under natural nutrient regimes broke down at relatively low levels of total phosphorus (P) enrichment (~ 25 μg L-1). With increasing P more species were able to coexist at any given time, and seasonal variation in assemblage composition was characterized by synchronous swings in species biovolumes. We also observed much higher instability in assemblage biovolumes with declines in compensatory dynamics, which indicates that anthropogenic alteration of nutrient regimes can affect community stability by changing the dominant mode of seasonal succession. Our findings indicate that compensatory fluctuations of stream algae are driven by seasonality, and provide insight about how nutrient enrichment alters evolved drivers of species coexistence.

Usage notes

Contains a copy of the algae data accompanying Cook and others (2021) organized by sampling site and event. Sampling occurred every other month, and spanned June 2014 to April 2016. Columns denote species names, an associated taxon code used for analysis, and biovolumes (mm3 m-2).