Intraspecific variability in fluctuating environments: mechanisms of impact on species diversity

Bnaya Steinmetz, Michael Kalyuzhny, Nadav M. Shnerb

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4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent studies have found considerable trait variations within species. The effect of such intraspecific trait variability (ITV) on the stability, coexistence, and diversity of ecological communities received considerable attention and in many models it was shown to impede coexistence and decrease species diversity. Here we present a numerical study of the effect of genetically inherited ITV on species persistence and diversity in a temporally fluctuating environment. Two mechanisms are identified. First, ITV buffers populations against varying environmental conditions (portfolio effect) and reduces variation in abundances. Second, the interplay between ITV and environmental variations tends to increase the mean fitness of diverse populations. The first mechanism promotes persistence and tends to increase species richness, while the second reduces the chance of a rare species population (which is usually homogeneous) to invade, thus decreasing species richness. We show that for large communities the portfolio effect is dominant, leading to ITV promoting species persistence and richness.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere03174
JournalEcology
Volume101
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the Ecological Society of America

Funding

B. Steinmetz, M. Kalyuzhny, and N. M. Shnerb conceived of the presented idea. B. Steinmetz and N. M. Shnerb developed the theory and performed the computations. All authors discussed the results and contributed to the final manuscript. This research was supported by the ISF-NRF Singapore joint research program (grant number 2669/17). M. Kalyuzhny was supported by the Adams Fellowship Program of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and by the Michigan Life Sciences Fellows Program. B. Steinmetz, M. Kalyuzhny, and N. M. Shnerb conceived of the presented idea. B. Steinmetz and N. M. Shnerb developed the theory and performed the computations. All authors discussed the results and contributed to the final manuscript. This research was supported by the ISF‐NRF Singapore joint research program (grant number 2669/17). M. Kalyuzhny was supported by the Adams Fellowship Program of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and by the Michigan Life Sciences Fellows Program.

FundersFunder number
ISF-NRF Singapore joint research program
ISF‐NRF Singapore joint research program2669/17
Michigan Life Sciences Fellows Program
Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities

    Keywords

    • adaptive eco-evolutionary dynamics
    • biodiversity
    • coexistence
    • community dynamics
    • competition
    • environmental stochasticity
    • intraspecific trait variability
    • portfolio effect

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