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Trophic-specific responses to migration in empirical metacommunities

Citation

Hajian-Forooshani, Zachary (2019), Trophic-specific responses to migration in empirical metacommunities, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.fbg79cnrc

Abstract

The metacommunity, as it evolved from Levins’s metapopulation, provides a framework to consider the spatial organization of species interactions. A defining feature of metapopulations and metacommunities is that organisms (populations or communities) are connected via migration. An important result from Levins’s metapopulation work—that increasing migration lowers regional extinction probability—is often incorporated into conceptions of metacommunities; however, this may not hold true for multiple interacting metapopulations (metacommunities). We report results from a metacommunity field experiment conducted with a tropical terrestrial leaf litter macro-arthropod community. We show that migration induces regional extinctions of predators without changing the predator community composition. For non-predators we found no evidence of regional extinctions, but a significant change in community composition.  Our result corroborates the findings of a prior similar metacommunity experiment with a temperate forest leaf litter community. The concordance between these experiments, even with vastly different communities, highlights the importance of considering trophic and non-trophic community structure to understand metacommunity dynamics, and suggests a potential connection between migration rates and trophic-specific responses in ecological communities.