Synchrony in small mammal community dynamics across a forested landscape
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Long- term studies at local scales indicate that fluctuations in abundance among trophically similar species are often temporally synchronized. Complementary studies on synchrony across larger spatial extents are less common, as are studies that investigate the subsequent impacts on community dynamics across the landscape. We investigate the impact of species population fluctuations on concordance in community dynamics for the small mammal fauna of the White Mountain National Forest, USA. Hierarchical open population models, which account for imperfect detection, were used to model abundance of the most common species at 108 sites over a three year period. Most species displayed individualistic responses of abundance to forest type and physiographic characteristics. However, among species, we found marked synchrony in population fluctuations across years, regardless of landscape affinities or trophic level. Across the region, this population synchrony led to high within-year concordance of community composition and aggregate properties (e.g. richness and diversity) independent of forest type and low among-year similarity in communities, even for years with similar species richness. Results suggest that extrinsic factors primarily drive abundance fluctuations and subsequently community dynamics, although local community assembly may be modified by species dispersal abilities and biotic interactions. Concordant community dynamics across space and over time may impact the stability of regional food webs and ecosystem functions.
Stephens, Ryan B.; Hocking, Daniel J.; Yamasaki, Mariko; Rowe, Rebecca J. 2016. Synchrony in small mammal community dynamics across a forested landscape. Ecography. 40(10): 1198-1209. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.02233.