Extinction disorders the species coposition of metacommunities

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Nestedness is a common pattern in nature, where less species rich local communities are subsets from richer communities. Is this predictability of community composition holds after the loss of species? This problem was investigated by excluding the rarest species of four example metacommunities (collections of local communities within archipelagoes), and correlated the changes of nestedness with the loss of species and individuals. Rarest species is that with the least number of individuals. Nestedness declined after a small increase in two of the metacommunities with the exclusion of species, and reached random species composition in both metacommunities after the loss of 58-66% of species. The order of nested subset structure in the other two metacommunities increased until most of the species were excluded (76% and 92%). The loss of 7-30% of individuals from the rarest species in all metacommunities led to random compositions. Because the extinction of ca. half of the species has been observed in a variety of human disturbed communities, the loss of compositional predictability of metacommunities may be an important threat in the increasingly human dominated communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-165
Number of pages7
JournalActa Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - dec. 1 2003


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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