Research ArticleBIODIVERSITY

Community-level regulation of temporal trends in biodiversity

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Science Advances  26 Jul 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 7, e1700315
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700315

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Many theoretical models of community dynamics predict that species richness (S) and total abundance (N) are regulated in their temporal fluctuations. We present novel evidence for widespread regulation of biodiversity. For 59 plant and animal assemblages from around the globe monitored annually for a decade or more, the majority exhibited regulated fluctuations compared to the null hypothesis of an unconstrained random walk. However, there was little evidence for statistical artifacts, regulation driven by correlations with average annual temperature, or local-scale compensatory fluctuations in S or N. In the absence of major environmental perturbations, such as urbanization or cropland transformation, species richness and abundance may be buffered and exhibit some resilience in their temporal trajectories. These results suggest that regulatory processes are occurring despite unprecedented environmental change, highlighting the need for community-level assessment of biodiversity trends, as well as extensions of existing theory to address open source pools and shifting environmental conditions.

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