Variation in the diversity of ducks along a gradient of environmental variability

  • Bethke R
  • Nudds T
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Tramer (1969) proposed that communities regulated by competition in benign, predictable environments were characterized by (i) damped variation in evenness relative to variation in richness over time, and (ii) high evenness relative to communities regulated by variation in the abundance and diversity of resources in rigorous, unpredictable environments. To test whether patterns of variation in diversity could reflect the mechanisms proposed to regulate community structure, temporal and spatial changes in the diversity, richness and evenness of breeding duck communities were examined along a gradient of variability in wetland conditions using thirty-three years of duck census and climate data from the Canadian prairie and boreal forest regions. Temporal variation in evenness was independent of wetland habitat variability. Changes in richness were more parsimoniously explained by the appearance of ducks displaced (by drought) from rigorous, variable wetland habitats into relatively benign ones, than by competition in benign areas. Evenness was not significantly higher for duck guilds in more constant wetland habitats, as predicted. Variation in richness, evenness and diversity, predicted by Tramer, do not provide a basis for distinguishing the factors that regulate duck community structure.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Climate
  • Diversity
  • Ducks
  • Multivariate analysis
  • Prairies

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  • Raymond W. Bethke

  • Thomas D. Nudds

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