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Wednesday, April 11 • 4:15pm - 4:30pm
SYMPOSIA-16: Metacommunity Disturbance in a Fluctuating World Studied Using Both Microcosm and Mathematic Model

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AUTHORS: Carina Rauen Firkowski*, University of Toronto; Marc Cadotte, University of Toronto Scarborough; Marie-Josée Fortin, University of Toronto

ABSTRACT: Microcosm experiments are accepted as a tractable system that has been widely used to test ecological predictions, and provides biological validation for modelling approaches. Mathematical modelling provides a flexible and robust approach to test the generality of results through sensitivity analyses and incorporation of complexity, providing opportunity for a mechanistic understanding of observed ecological patterns.Here, we seek to determine a metacommunity’s ability to persist in the face of disturbance, while maintaining its structure and function. Since distinct environmental fluctuation regimes are important in defining metacommunity structure, one might predict a differential response between metacommunities to the combined effects of environmental fluctuation and disturbance impacts. Specifically, we investigate how the presence of environmental fluctuation influences the responses of metacommunities to the landscape disturbance of patch depletion.In a microcosm experiment, biological communities consisted of an initial species assemblage of nine protozoan species. Environmental fluctuation was implemented by manipulating light availability, where we compared the control of constant light to a treatment of “high” frequency of fluctuations. After an initial stabilizing period of 12 days, landscape disturbance treatments were applied through the depletion of 0% (control), 40% and 80% of the patches in the metacommunity. The experiment ran for an additional 30 days, allowing for a comprehensive time series assessment of ~50-300 generations. Each treatment level was replicated eight times. The dynamics of this microcosm experiment were simulated through a spatially explicit, species interaction metacommunity (SESIM) model. We assess the role of environmental fluctuations in defining the relative risk of metacommunities to disturbance, and which food web properties are good predictors/promoters of robustness and resilience. The presented methodological approach provides a flexible framework to understand how species respond to multiple disturbances.

Wednesday April 11, 2018 4:15pm - 4:30pm CDT
Grant Park Parlor

Attendees (6)