Community assembly in the presence of disturbance: a microcosm experiment.

School of Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology, 310 Ferst Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30332, USA.
Ecology (Impact Factor: 5). 08/2008; 89(7):1931-40. DOI: 10.1890/07-1263.1
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Ecologists know relatively little about the manner in which disturbance affects the likelihood of alternative community stable states and how the history of community assembly affects the relationship between disturbance and species diversity. Using microbial communities comprising bacterivorous ciliated protists assembled in laboratory microcosms, we experimentally investigated these questions by independently manipulating the intensity of disturbance (in the form of density-independent mortality) and community assembly history (including a control treatment with simultaneous species introduction and five sequential assembly treatments). Species diversity patterns consistent with the intermediate disturbance hypothesis emerged in the controls, as several species showed responses indicative of a tradeoff between competitive ability and ability to recover from disturbance. Species diversity in communities with sequential assembly, however, generally declined with disturbance, owing to the increased extinction risk of later colonizers at the intermediate level of disturbance. Similarities among communities subjected to different assembly histories increased with disturbance, a result due possibly to increasing disturbance reducing the importance of competition and hence priority effects. This finding is most consistent with the idea that increasing disturbance tends to reduce the likelihood of alternative stable states. Collectively, these results indicate the strong interactive effects of disturbance and assembly history on the structure of ecological communities.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background The microbial community in a biogas reactor greatly influences the process performance. However, only the effects of deterministic factors (such as temperature and hydraulic retention time (HRT)) on the microbial community and performance have been investigated in biogas reactors. Little is known about the manner in which stochastic factors (for example, stochastic birth, death, colonization, and extinction) and disturbance affect the stable-state microbial community and reactor performances. Results In the present study, three replicate biogas reactors treating cattle manure were run to examine the role of stochastic factors and disturbance in shaping microbial communities. In the triplicate biogas reactors with the same inoculum and operational conditions, similar process performances and microbial community profiles were observed under steady-state conditions. This indicated that stochastic factors had a minor role in shaping the profile of the microbial community composition and activity in biogas reactors. On the contrary, temperature disturbance was found to play an important role in the microbial community composition as well as process performance for biogas reactors. Although three different temperature disturbances were applied to each biogas reactor, the increased methane yields (around 10% higher) and decreased volatile fatty acids (VFAs) concentrations at steady state were found in all three reactors after the temperature disturbances. After the temperature disturbance, the biogas reactors were brought back to the original operational conditions; however, new steady-state microbial community profiles were observed in all the biogas reactors. Conclusions The present study demonstrated that temperature disturbance, but not stochastic factors, played an important role in shaping the profile of the microbial community composition and activity in biogas reactors. New steady-state microbial community profiles and reactor performances were observed in all the biogas reactors after the temperature disturbance.
    Biotechnology for Biofuels 01/2015; 8(3). DOI:10.1186/s13068-014-0182-y · 6.22 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Ample evidence suggests that ecological communities can exhibit historical contingencies. However, few studies have explored whether differences in assembly history can generate alternative local community states in metacommunities in which local communities are linked by dispersal. In a protist microcosm experiment, we examined the influence of species colonization history on metacommunity assembly under homogeneous environmental conditions, by manipulating both the sequence of species colonization into local communities and the rate of dispersal among local communities. Whereas the role of dispersal in structuring local communities decreased over time and became non-significant towards the end of the experiment, species colonization history significantly influenced local communities throughout the experiment. Local communities, regardless of the rate of dispersal among them, exhibited two alternative states characterized by the dominance of different species. The alternative community states, however, emerged in the absence of priority effects that were often associated with alternative community states found in other assembly studies. Rather, they were driven by variation in species interaction strength among local communities with different assembly histories. These results suggest that dispersal among local communities may not necessarily reduce the role of species colonization history in shaping metacommunity assembly, and that differences in species colonization history need to be explicitly considered as an important factor in causing heterogeneous community states in metacommunities.
    Oikos 02/2015; DOI:10.1111/oik.02079 · 3.56 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Reef-building corals form complex relationships with a range of microorganisms including bacteria, archaea, fungi and the unicellular microalgae of the genus Symbiodinium, which together form the coral holobiont. These symbionts are known to have both beneficial and deleterious effects on their coral host, but little is known about what the governing factors of these relationships are, or the interactions that exist between the different members of the holobiont and their environment. Here we used 16S ribosomal RNA gene amplicon sequencing to investigate how archaeal and bacterial communities associated with the widespread scleractinian coral Seriatopora hystrix are influenced by extrinsic (reef habitat and geographic location) and intrinsic (host genotype and Symbiodinium subclade) factors. Bacteria dominate the microbiome of S. hystrix, with members of the Alphaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria and Bacteriodetes being the most predominant in all samples. The richness and evenness of these communities varied between reef habitats, but there was no significant difference between distinct coral host lineages or corals hosting distinct Symbiodinium subclades. The coral microbiomes correlated to reef habitat (depth) and geographic location, with a negative correlation between Alpha- and Gammaproteobacteria, driven by the key members of both groups (Rhodobacteraceae and Hahellaceae, respectively), which showed significant differences between location and depth. This study suggests that the control of microbial communities associated with the scleractinian coral S. hystrix is driven primarily by external environmental conditions rather than by those directly associated with the coral holobiont.The ISME Journal advance online publication, 10 February 2015; doi:10.1038/ismej.2015.3.
    The ISME Journal 02/2015; DOI:10.1038/ismej.2015.3 · 9.27 Impact Factor


1 Download
Available from