Data from: Experimental dominant plant removal results in contrasting assembly for dominant and non‐dominant plants
Arnillas, Carlos Alberto; Cadotte, Marc W. (2019), Data from: Experimental dominant plant removal results in contrasting assembly for dominant and non‐dominant plants, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.67qh110
Understanding why communities appear deterministically dominated by relatively few species is an age‐old debate in ecology. We hypothesised that the dominant and non‐dominant species in a community are governed by different assembly mechanisms where environmental conditions influence dominant species more than non‐dominant species. Further, dominant plants moderate the environment where non‐dominant species thrive, diminishing the influence of environmental filtering and increasing the influence of limiting similarity for non‐dominant species. We tested these hypotheses by removing two dominant species in five temperate meadows. We found that the composition of the non‐dominants diverged while the new dominants converged over time. Phylogenetic analyses suggested that habitat filtering and limiting similarity drove the new dominant species simultaneously. Conversely, non‐dominant community assembly appeared more unpredictable. These suggest that dominant species converged towards a predictable environmentally driven optimum, while non‐dominant species thrive in a moderated habitat, which probably reduced non‐dominant species predictability.