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Data from: Experimental demonstration of the importance of keystone communities for maintaining metacommunity biodiversity and ecosystem functioning

Citation

Yang, Xian; Tan, Jiaqi; Sun, Kevin Harry; Jiang, Lin (2020), Data from: Experimental demonstration of the importance of keystone communities for maintaining metacommunity biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5tb2rbp29

Abstract

As local communities within a metacommunity may differ considerably in their contributions to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, it has been suggested that conservation priority should be given to disproportionately important local communities (i.e., keystone communities). However, we know little about what characterizes a keystone community. Using laboratory protist microcosms as the model system, we examined how the environmental uniqueness and location of a local community affect its contributions to the metacommunities. We found that the removal of local communities with unique environmental conditions, which supported endemic species, reduced regional-scale diversity, qualifying them as regional-scale keystone communities. In addition, the local communities possessing unique environmental conditions had greater impacts on ecosystem functions, including biovolume production and particulate organic matter decomposition. We also found that keystone communities for biovolume production were not keystone for organic matter decomposition, and vice versa. Our study, therefore, demonstrates the important role of keystone communities in maintaining biodiversity and functioning of metacommunities.

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1856318

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1342754

National Science Foundation, Award: CBET-1833988