Meta‐analysis on pulse disturbances reveals differences in functional and compositional recovery across ecosystems


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berenike.bick [ at ] hifmb.de

Abstract

Most ecosystems are affected by anthropogenic or natural pulse disturbances, which alter the community composition and functioning for a limited period of time. Whether and how quickly communities recover from such pulses is central to our understanding of biodiversity dynamics and ecosystem organisation, but also to nature conservation and management. Here, we present a meta‐analysis of 508 (semi‐)natural field experiments globally distributed across marine, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. We found recovery to be significant yet incomplete. At the end of the experiments, disturbed treatments resembled controls again when considering abundance (94%), biomass (82%), and univariate diversity measures (88%). Most disturbed treatments did not further depart from control after the pulse, indicating that few studies showed novel trajectories induced by the pulse. Only multivariate community composition on average showed little recovery: disturbed species composition remained dissimilar to the control throughout most experiments. Still, when experiments revealed a higher compositional stability, they tended to also show higher functional stability. Recovery was more complete when systems had high resistance, whereas resilience and resistance were negatively correlated. The overall results were highly consistent across studies, but significant differences between ecosystems and organism groups appeared. Future research on disturbances should aim to understand these differences, but also fill obvious gaps in the empirical assessments for regions (especially the tropics), ecosystems and organisms. In summary, we provide general evidence that (semi‐)natural communities can recover from pulse disturbances, but compositional aspects are more vulnerable to long‐lasting effects of pulse disturbance than the emergent functions associated to them.



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ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
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Published
Eprint ID
51338
DOI 10.1111/ele.13457

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Hillebrand, H. and Kunze, C. (2020): Meta‐analysis on pulse disturbances reveals differences in functional and compositional recovery across ecosystems , Ecology Letters, 23 (3), pp. 575-585 . doi: 10.1111/ele.13457


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