Species differences drive non-neutral structure in Pleistocene coral communities

Bode, Michael, Connolly, Sean R. and Pandolfi, John M. (2012) Species differences drive non-neutral structure in Pleistocene coral communities. The American Naturalist, 180 5: 577-588. doi:10.1086/667892

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Author Bode, Michael
Connolly, Sean R.
Pandolfi, John M.
Title Species differences drive non-neutral structure in Pleistocene coral communities
Journal name The American Naturalist   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0003-0147
Publication date 2012-11-01
Year available 2012
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1086/667892
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 180
Issue 5
Start page 577
End page 588
Total pages 12
Place of publication Chicago, United States
Publisher University of Chicago Press
Language eng
Abstract Although ecological assemblages frequently depart from neutral model predictions, these discrepancies have not been unambiguously attributed to neutral theory’s core assumption: that community structure is primarily the result of chance variation in birth, death, speciation, and dispersal, rather than the manifestation of demographic differences among species. Using coral communities in Barbados from four time periods during the Pleistocene, we demonstrate that the neutral theory cannot explain coral community similarity distributions, species’ regional abundance distributions, or their local occupancy. Furthermore, discrepancies between the neutral theory and the observed communities can be attributed to violation of the core assumption of species equivalence. In particular, species’ variable growth rates are driving departures from neutral predictions. Our results reinforce an understanding of reef coral community assembly that invokes trade-offs in species’ demographic strategies. The results further suggest that conservation management actions will fail if they are based on the neutral assumption that different coral species are equally able to create live coral cover in the shallow-water reef environment. These findings highlight the importance of developing biodiversity theory that can parsimoniously incorporate species differences in coral reef communities, rather than further elaborating neutral theory.
Keyword Island biogeography
Linear growth rates
Community assembly
Coral reefs
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Electronically published: 4 October 2012.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 9 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 6 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 13 Nov 2012, 22:02:19 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences