Data from: The multiple roles of β–diversity help untangle community assembly processes affecting recovery of temperate rocky shores
Chiantore, Mariachiara et al. (2018), Data from: The multiple roles of β–diversity help untangle community assembly processes affecting recovery of temperate rocky shores, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.rs467t5
Metacommunity theory highlights the potential of β–diversity as a useful link to empirical research, especially in diverse systems where species exhibit a range of stage-dependent dispersal characteristics. To investigate the importance of different components and scales of β–diversity in community assembly we conducted a large-scale disturbance experiment and compared relative recovery across multiple sites and among plots within sites on the rocky shore. Six sites were spread along 80 km of coastline and, at each site, 5 plots were established, matching disturbed and undisturbed quadrats. Recovery was not complete at any of the sites after 1 year for either epibenthos (mostly composed of macroalgae and, locally, mussels) or infauna. Significant differences in recovery among sites were observed for epibenthos but not for infauna suggesting different community assembly processes were operating. This was supported by epibenthos in the recovering plots having higher species turnover than in undisturbed sediment, and recovery well predicted by local diversity, while infaunal recovery was strongly influenced by the epibenthic community’s habitat complexity. However, infaunal community recovery did not simply track formation of habitat by recovering epibenthos, but appeared to be overlain by within-site and among-site aspects of infaunal -diversity. These results suggest that documenting changes in the large plants and animals alone will be a poor surrogate for rocky shore community assembly processes. No role for ecological connectivity (negative effect of among-site β–diversity) in driving recovery was observed, suggesting a low risk of effects from multiple disturbances propagating along the coast, but a limited resilience at the site scale to large-scale disturbances such as landslides or oil spills.