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Analysis Of Spatial Patterns Informs Community Assembly And Sampling Requirements For Collembola In Forest Soils

Tara Dirilgen, Edīte Juceviča, Viesturs Melecis, P. Querner, T. Bolger
Published 2018 · Geography

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Abstract The relative importance of niche separation, non-equilibrial and neutral models of community assembly has been a theme in community ecology for many decades with none appearing to be applicable under all circumstances. In this study, Collembola species abundances were recorded over eleven consecutive years in a spatially explicit grid and used to examine (i) whether observed beta diversity differed from that expected under conditions of neutrality, (ii) whether sampling points differed in their relative contributions to overall beta diversity, and (iii) the number of samples required to provide comparable estimates of species richness across three forest sites. Neutrality could not be rejected for 26 of the forest by year combinations. However, there is a trend toward greater structure in the oldest forest, where beta diversity was greater than predicted by neutrality on five of the eleven sampling dates. The lack of difference in individual- and sample-based rarefaction curves also suggests randomness in the system at this particular scale of investigation. It seems that Collembola communities are not spatially aggregated and assembly is driven primarily by neutral processes particularly in the younger two sites. Whether this finding is due to small sample size or unaccounted for environmental variables cannot be determined. Variability between dates and sites illustrates the potential of drawing incorrect conclusions if data are collected at a single site and a single point in time.
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