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In situ resistance, not immigration, supports invertebrate community resilience to drought intensification in a Neotropical ecosystem

Cite this dataset

Bonhomme, Camille et al. (2020). In situ resistance, not immigration, supports invertebrate community resilience to drought intensification in a Neotropical ecosystem [Dataset]. Dryad.


While future climate scenarios predict declines in precipitations in many regions of the world, little is known of the mechanisms underlying community resilience to prolonged dry seasons, especially in “naïve” Neotropical rainforests. Predictions of community resilience to intensifying drought are complicated by the fact that the underlying mechanisms are mediated by species’ tolerance and resistance traits, as well as rescue through dispersal from source patches.

We examined the contribution of in situ tolerance-resistance and immigration to community resilience, following drought events that ranged from the ambient norm to IPCC scenarios and extreme events.

We used rainshelters above rainwater-filled bromeliads of French Guiana to emulate a gradient of drought intensity (from 1 to 6 times the current number of consecutive days without rainfall), and we analyzed the post-drought dynamics of the taxonomic and functional community structure of aquatic invertebrates to these treatments when immigration is excluded (by netting bromeliads) or permitted (no nets).

Drought intensity negatively affected invertebrate community resistance, but had a positive influence on community recovery during the post-drought phase. After droughts of 1 to 1.4 times the current intensities, the overall invertebrate abundance recovered within invertebrate life cycle durations (up to 2 months). Shifts in taxonomic composition were more important after longer droughts, but overall, community composition showed recovery towards baseline states. The non-random patterns of changes in functional community structure indicated that deterministic processes like environmental filtering of traits drive community re-assembly patterns after a drought event. Community resilience mostly relied on in situ tolerance-resistance traits. A rescue effect of immigration after a drought event was weak and mostly apparent under extreme droughts.

Under climate change scenarios of drought intensification in Neotropical regions, community and ecosystem resilience could primarily depend on the persistence of suitable habitats and on the resistance traits of species, while metacommunity dynamics could make a minor contribution to ecosystem recovery. Climate change adaptation should thus aim at identifying and preserving local conditions that foster in situ resistance and the buffering effects of habitat features.