The control of rank-abundance distributions by a competitive despotic species

Mac Nally, Ralph, McAlpine, Clive A., Possingham, Hugh P. and Maron, Martine (2014) The control of rank-abundance distributions by a competitive despotic species. Oecologia, 176 3: 849-857. doi:10.1007/s00442-014-3060-1

Author Mac Nally, Ralph
McAlpine, Clive A.
Possingham, Hugh P.
Maron, Martine
Title The control of rank-abundance distributions by a competitive despotic species
Journal name Oecologia   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0029-8549
Publication date 2014-09-04
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s00442-014-3060-1
Open Access Status
Volume 176
Issue 3
Start page 849
End page 857
Total pages 9
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Subject 1105 Dentistry
Abstract Accounting for differences in abundances among species remains a high priority for community ecology. While there has been more than 80 years of work on trying to explain the characteristic S shape of rank-abundance distributions (RADs), there has been recent conjecture that the form may not depend on ecological processes per se but may be a general phenomenon arising in many unrelated disciplines. We show that the RAD shape can be influenced by an ecological process, namely, interference competition. The noisy miner (Manorina melanocephala) is a hyperaggressive, 'despotic' bird that occurs over much of eastern Australia (>106km2). We compiled data for bird communities from 350 locations within its range, which were collected using standard avian survey methods. We used hierarchical Bayesian models to show that the RAD shape was much altered when the abundance of the strong interactor exceeded a threshold density; RADs consistently were steeper when the density of the noisy miner ≥2.5 birds ha-1. The structure of bird communities at sites where the noisy miner exceeded this density was very different from that at sites where the densities fell below the threshold: species richness and Shannon diversity were much reduced, but mean abundances and mean avian biomass per site did not differ substantially.
Keyword Bayesian models
Colonial birds
Community structure
Strong interactors
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management Publications
CEED Publications
Official 2015 Collection
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