Clumped Dispersal and Species Coexistence

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Potthoff, M. , Johst, K. , Gutt, J. and Wissel, C. (2005): Clumped Dispersal and Species Coexistence , Ecological Modelling .
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AbstractClumped dispersal of species is a widespread phenomenon in nature, however its relevance for structuring communities and maintaining biodiversity is not well understood. We used a spatially explicit simulation model to assess the effects of clumped compared to non-clumped dispersal on the diversity of a model community of sessile species. The species differed only in terms of their mean dispersal distance. Neither trade-offs between dispersal and local competitive strengths nor differences in these competitive strengths were assumed. We investigated spatially homogeneous, heterogeneous and temporally fluctuating environments. In all cases clumped dispersal allowed the long-term coexistence of a variety of species in contrast to non-clumped dispersal. In particular, clumped dispersal was found to decouple the mechanism of spatial clustering and thus recruitment variation or limitation from the dispersal distance. This supports species coexistence even in environments where local non-clumped dispersal was a superior or inferior dispersal strategy. Clumping is an attribute of dispersal offering new possibilities for trade-offs with life-history traits and with the dispersal distance itself.

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