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Diversity loss from multiple interacting disturbances is regime-dependent
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  • Luke Lear,
  • Hidetoshi Inamine,
  • Katriona Shea,
  • Angus Buckling
Luke Lear
University of Exeter College of Life and Environmental Sciences

Corresponding Author:ll381@exeter.ac.uk

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Hidetoshi Inamine
Pennsylvania State University - Main Campus
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Katriona Shea
Penn State University
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Angus Buckling
University of Exeter
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Abstract

Climate change is bringing unforeseen alterations to disturbance regimes, exposing many ecosystems to multiple novel disturbances simultaneously. Despite this, how biodiversity responds to simultaneous disturbances remains unclear, with conflicting empirical results on their interactive effects. Here, we experimentally test how one disturbance (an invasive species) affects the diversity of a community over multiple levels of another disturbance regime (pulse mortality). Specifically, we invade stably coexisting bacterial communities under four different pulse frequencies, and compare their final resident diversity to uninvaded communities under the same pulse mortality regimes. We find that the disturbances synergistically interact such that the invader significantly reduces resident diversity at high pulse frequency, but not at low. This work therefore highlights the need to study simultaneous disturbance effects over multiple disturbance regimes as well as to carefully document unmanipulated disturbances, and may help explain the conflicting results seen in previous multiple-disturbance work.