The role of temperature and dispersal in moss-microarthropod community assembly after a catastrophic event

  • Perdomo G
  • Sunnucks P
  • Thompson R
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There is a clear crisis in the maintenance of biodiversity. It has been generated by a multitude of factors, notably habitat loss, now compounded by the effects of climate change. Predicted changes in climate include increased severity and frequency of extreme climatic events. To manage landscapes, an understanding of the processes that allow recovery from these extreme events is required. Understanding these landscape-scale processes of community assembly and disassembly is hindered by the large scales at which they operate. Model systems provide a means of studying landscape scale processes at tractable scales. Here, we assess the combined effects of temperature and habitat-patch isolation on assembly of naturally diverse moss microarthropod communities after a high-temperature event. We show that community assembly depends on temperature and on degree of habitat isolation. Heated communities were heavily dominated in abundance by two species, one of them relatively large. The resulting size-structure is unlike that seen in the field. Community composition in habitat fragments appears also to have been influenced by the source pool of recolonizing fauna. Our results highlight the value of dispersal in disturbed landscapes and the potential for habitat connectivity to buffer communities from the effects of climate change.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Assembly
  • Climate
  • Climatic extremes
  • Global warming
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Microcosm

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