Intraspecific functional diversity of common species enhances community stability
Ecology and Evolution, February 2017
Wood, Connor M., McKinney, Shawn T., Loftin, Cynthia S.
Common species are fundamental to the structure and function of their communities and may enhance community stability through intraspecific functional diversity (iFD). We measured among-habitat and within-habitat iFD (i.e., among- and within-plant community types) of two common small mammal species using stable isotopes and functional trait dendrograms, determined whether iFD was related to short-term population stability and small mammal community stability, and tested whether spatially explicit trait filters helped explain observed patterns of iFD. Southern red-backed voles (Myodes gapperi) had greater iFD than deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus), both among habitats, and within the plant community in which they were most abundant (their "primary habitat"). Peromyscus maniculatus populations across habitats differed significantly between years and declined 78% in deciduous forests, their primary habitat, as did the overall deciduous forest small mammal community. Myodes gapperi populations were stable across habitats and within coniferous forest, their primary habitat, as was the coniferous forest small mammal community. Generalized linear models representing internal trait filters (e.g., competition), which increase within-habitat type iFD, best explained variation in M. gapperi diet, while models representing internal filters and external filters (e.g., climate), which suppress within-habitat iFD, best explained P. maniculatus diet. This supports the finding that M. gapperi had higher iFD than P. maniculatus and is consistent with the theory that internal trait filters are associated with higher iFD than external filters. Common species with high iFD can impart a stabilizing influence on their communities, information that can be important for conserving biodiversity under environmental change.
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