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Data from: Priority effects determine how dispersal affects biodiversity in seasonal metacommunities


Zou, Heng-Xing; Rudolf, Volker H. W. (2023), Data from: Priority effects determine how dispersal affects biodiversity in seasonal metacommunities, Dryad, Dataset,


The arrival order of species frequently determines the outcome of their interactions. This phenomenon, called the priority effect, is ubiquitous in nature and determines local community structure, but we know surprisingly little about how it influences biodiversity across different spatial scales. Here, we use a seasonal metacommunity model to show that biodiversity patterns and the homogenizing effect of high dispersal depend on the specific mechanisms underlying priority effects. When priority effects are only driven by positive frequency dependence, dispersal-diversity relationships are sensitive to initial conditions but generally show a hump-shaped relationship: biodiversity declines when dispersal rates become high and allow the dominant competitor to exclude other species across patches. When spatiotemporal variation in phenological differences alters species’ interaction strengths (trait-dependent priority effects), local, regional, and temporal diversity are surprisingly insensitive to variation in dispersal, regardless of the initial numeric advantage. Thus, trait-dependent priority effects can strongly reduce the effect of dispersal on biodiversity, preventing the homogenization of metacommunities. Our results suggest an alternative mechanism that maintains local and regional diversity without environmental heterogeneity, highlighting that accounting for the mechanisms underlying priority effects is fundamental to understanding patterns of biodiversity.

Usage notes

R code and a R markdown that generates all figures are deposited at Zenodo; please follow the link in the "Software" section. 


National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1655626