Journal article

The effects of species properties and community context on establishment success

Published in:
  • Oikos. - 2015, vol. 124, no. 3, p. 355–363
English Understanding whether factors important for species establishment in a local community are predictable or context- dependent is key for determining the features that affect community stability and species coexistence. A major challenge for scientists addressing this question is that natural systems are complex. This makes it difficult to test multiple properties of species and features of the resident community simultaneously to determine what factors are most important for establishment success of a species into a novel community. We used the model aquatic system inside the leaves of the pitcher plant Sarracenia purpurea to test whether properties predicted to be important for establishment success of a species (initial density, competitive ability, body size) are generalizable across communities varying in resource availability and the presence of a top predator. For intermediate trophic-level species, we found that both competitive dominance and initial density were important for establishment success. Although a less competitive species was also able to successfully establish in the communities, high resource availability and high initial density were important for its establishment success. Body size of the introduced species, although correlated with competitive ability, was not an important characteristic for establishment success. The presence of a top predator significantly decreased the densities of the introduced species when resources were low, but did not completely inhibit establishment success. The relative importance of each of these factors, and interactions among them, could not have been discerned through single hypothesis testing. The results from this work show the need for detailed experiments that focus on combinations of factors to understand if mechanisms determining community assembly and species establishment can be generalized across systems.
Faculté des sciences et de médecine
Département de Biologie
  • English
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