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The role of landscape connectivity in resistance, resilience, and recovery of multi-trophic microarthropod communities

Shackelford, N., Standish, R.J., Lindo, Z. and Starzomski, B.M. (2018) The role of landscape connectivity in resistance, resilience, and recovery of multi-trophic microarthropod communities. Ecology, 99 (5). pp. 1164-1172.

Link to Published Version: https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.2196
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Abstract

There is a need to find generalizable mechanisms supporting ecological resilience, resistance, and recovery. One hypothesized mechanism is landscape connectivity, a habitat configuration that allows movement of biotic and abiotic resources between local patches. Whether connectivity increases all or only one of resistance, resilience, and recovery has not been teased apart, however, and has been difficult to test at large scales and for complex trophic webs. Natural microcosms offer a complex system that can be manipulated to test questions at a landscape-scale relative to the community of study. Here, we test the role of connectivity in altering resistance, resilience, and recovery to a gradient of heating disturbance in moss microcosms. To test across trophic levels, we focused on community composition as our metric of response and applied three connectivity treatments - isolation, connected to an equally disturbed patch, and connected to an undisturbed patch. We found that connectivity between equally disturbed patches boosted resistance of communities to disturbance. Additionally, recovery was linear and rapid in communities connected to undisturbed landscapes, hump shaped when connected to equally disturbed landscapes, and linear but slow in isolated communities. We did not find thresholds on the disturbance gradient at which disturbed communities exhibited zero or increasing dissimilarity to controls through time, so were unable to draw conclusions on the role of connectivity in ecological resilience. Ultimately, isolated communities exhibited increasingly variable composition and slow recovery patterns even in control communities when compared with connected treatments.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Ecological Society of America
Copyright: © 2018 Ecological Society of America
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/40652
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