Kreyling, J; Beierkuhnlein, C; Ellis, L; Jentsch, A: Invasibility of grassland and heath communities exposed to extreme weather events - additive effects of biotic resistance and fluctuating physical environment, Oikos, 117(10), 1542-1554 (2008)
Key words: EVENT 1
Understanding the resistance of plant communities to invasion is urgent in times of changes in the physical environment due to climate change and changes in the resident communities due to biodiversity loss. Here, we test the interaction between repeated drought or heavy rainfall events and functional diversity of grassland and heath communities on invasibility, measured as the number of plant individuals invading from the matrix vegetation. Invasibility of experimental plant communities was influenced by extreme weather events, although no change in above-ground productivity of the resident communities was observed. Drought decreased invasibility while heavy rainfall increased invasibility, a pattern that is consistent with the fluctuating resource hypothesis. Higher community diversity generally decreased invasibility, which can be explained by a combination of the fluctuating resource hypothesis and niche theory. The effects of the physical environment (extreme weather events) and diversity resistance (community composition) were additive, as they were independent from each other. Differences in the composition of invading species sets were found, and Indicator Species Analysis revealed several invading species with significant affinity to one particular extreme weather event or community composition. This finding supports niche theory and contradicts neutral species assembly. Our data supports theories which predict decreased resistance of plant communities due to both increased climate variability and biodiversity loss. The effects of these two factors, however, appear to be independent from each other.

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