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Functional Ecology
27, No. 1, 2013; Pages: 282 - 288

Niche dimensionality links biodiversity and invasibility of microbial communities

Nico Eisenhauer, Wiebke Schulz, Stefan Scheu, Alexandre Jousset

Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Technische Universität München, Freising, Germany.

Biodiversity is a central factor driving community invasibility. Diverse communities exploit resources more efficiently, leaving less free niche space available to invaders. Niche partitioning, however, is only possible in complex resource environments, and we hypothesized that resource richness drives the biodiversity–invasibility relationship.
We tested the effect of two biodiversity indices, taxonomic richness and functional dissimilarity, on the invasibility of Pseudomonas fluorescens communities in microcosms of varying resource richness, herein used as a proxy for niche dimensionality, because different P. fluorescens genotypes differed in their ability to use those resources.
Invader success was negatively correlated with the diversity of the resident community, with functional dissimilarity being of greater significance than taxonomic richness. Varied niche dimensionality revealed different mechanisms determining community invasibility: at low niche dimensionality, invasibility was driven by the presence of particular genotypes (identity effect) rather than by the biodiversity of the resident community. At high niche dimensionality, functional dissimilarity increased community productivity and reduced invasion, most likely through complementarity effects.
The results show that functionally dissimilar bacterial strains efficiently exploit their environment, reducing the resources available for invasive species. These findings call for the preservation of functionally dissimilar taxa to warrant resistance of communities against invasive species, in particular, in environments of high niche dimensionality.

Keywords: Biodiversity–ecosystem functioning; biological invasion; complementarity effect; identity effect; niche preemption



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