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Fournier, B., Mouquet, N., Leibold, M. A., & Gravel, D. (2017). An integrative framework of coexistence mechanisms in competitive metacommunities. Ecography, 40(5), 630–641.
Résumé: Species distribution in a metacommunity varies according to their traits, the distribution of environmental conditions and connectivity among localities. These ingredients contribute to coexistence across spatial scales via species sorting, patch dynamics, mass effects and neutral dynamics. These mechanisms however seldom act in isolation and the impact of landscape configuration on their relative importance remains poorly understood. We present a new model of metacommunity dynamics that simultaneously considers these four possible mechanisms over spatially explicit landscapes and propose a statistical approach to partition their contribution to species distribution. We find that landscape configuration can induce dispersal limitations that have negative consequences for local species richness. This result was more pronounced with neutral dynamics and mass effect than with species sorting or patch dynamics. We also find that the relative importance of the four mechanisms varies not only among landscape configurations, but also among species, with some species being mostly constrained by dispersal and/or drift and others by sorting. Changes in landscape properties might lead to a shift in coexistence mechanisms and, by extension, to a change in community composition. This confirms the importance of considering landscape properties for conservation and management. Our results illustrate the idea that ecological communities are the results of multiple mechanisms acting at the same time and complete our understanding of spatial processes in competitive metacommunities.