Journal article

A landscape-scale field experiment reveals the importance of dispersal in a resource-limited metacommunity

Jill Lancaster, Barbara J Downes

ECOLOGY | WILEY | Published : 2017


Dispersal may play a strong role in driving species diversity across landscapes. Theoretically, dispersal permits species to remain extant within a metacommunity, even if they are periodically excluded from some local communities. Field tests of dispersal effects are difficult, and most non-experimental data suggest that environmental conditions play the predominant role in setting species diversity. However, most such studies cannot differentiate between patterns caused primarily by dispersal constraints vs. abiotic factors vs. biotic constraints (e.g., priority effects). In 22 km of a sand-bed stream in southeastern Australia, strong longitudinal gradients in the abiotic environment and de..

View full abstract


Awarded by Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

This research was supported by Discovery grants from the Australian Research Council (DP0772854 and DP120103145) awarded to BJD and JL. We are grateful to local landholders for allowing access to study sites. Special thanks to Alena Glaister and William Bovill for heroic efforts in the field and laboratory. Thanks also to the many people who helped in the field: Joshua Grubb, Bronwyn Gwyther, Dean Hartwell, Steve Horn, Ashley Macqueen, Bobbi Peckarsky, Jared Polkinghorn, Handoko Wahjudi, Julia White.