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Data from: Context dependent colonization dynamics: regional reward contagion drives local compression in aquatic beetles

Cite this dataset

Pintar, Matthew R.; Resetarits, William J. (2018). Data from: Context dependent colonization dynamics: regional reward contagion drives local compression in aquatic beetles [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Habitat selection by colonizing organisms is an important factor in determining species abundance and community dynamics at multiple spatial scales. Many organisms select habitat patches based on intrinsic patch quality, but patches exist in complex landscapes linked by dispersal and colonization, forming metapopulations and metacommunities. Perceived patch quality can be influenced by neighboring patches through spatial contagion, wherein perceived quality of one patch can extend beyond its borders and either increase or decrease the colonization of neighboring patches and localities. These spatially-explicit colonization dynamics can result in habitat compression, wherein more colonists occupy a patch or locality than in the absence of spatial context dependence. 2. Previous work on contagion/compression focused primarily on the role of predators in driving colonization patterns. Our goal was to determine whether resource abundance can drive multiscale colonization dynamics of aquatic beetles through the processes of contagion and compression in naturally-colonized experimental pools. 3. We established two levels (high/low quality) of within-patch resource abundances (leaf litter) using an experimental landscape of mesocosms, and assayed colonization by 35 species of aquatic beetles. Patches were arranged in localities (sets of two patches), which consisted of a combination of two patch-level resource levels in a 2 × 2 factorial design, allowing us to assay colonization at both locality and patch levels. 4. We demonstrate that patterns of species abundance and richness of colonizing aquatic beetles are determined by patch quality and context-dependent processes at multiple spatial scales. Localities that consisted of at least one high quality patch were colonized at equivalent rates that were higher than localities containing only low quality patches, displaying regional reward contagion. In localities that consisted of one high and one low quality patch, reward contagion produced by higher leaf litter levels resulted in greater abundance of beetles in such localities, which then compressed into the highest quality patches. 5. Our results provide further support for the critical roles of habitat selection and spatial context, particularly the quality of neighboring habitat patches, in generating patterns of species abundances and community structure across landscapes.

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University of Mississippi Field Station