Contrasted effects of diversity and immigration on ecological insurance in marine bacterioplankton communities.

PLoS ONE. 2012;7(6):e37620 DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0037620

 

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Journal Title: PLoS ONE

ISSN: 1932-6203 (Online)

Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)

LCC Subject Category: Medicine | Science

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

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AUTHORS

Thierry Bouvier
Patrick Venail
Thomas Pommier
Corinne Bouvier
Claire Barbera
Nicolas Mouquet

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

Peer review

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Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

The ecological insurance hypothesis predicts a positive effect of species richness on ecosystem functioning in a variable environment. This effect stems from temporal and spatial complementarity among species within metacommunities coupled with optimal levels of dispersal. Despite its importance in the context of global change by human activities, empirical evidence for ecological insurance remains scarce and controversial. Here we use natural aquatic bacterial communities to explore some of the predictions of the spatial and temporal aspects of the ecological insurance hypothesis. Addressing ecological insurance with bacterioplankton is of strong relevance given their central role in fundamental ecosystem processes. Our experimental set up consisted of water and bacterioplankton communities from two contrasting coastal lagoons. In order to mimic environmental fluctuations, the bacterioplankton community from one lagoon was successively transferred between tanks containing water from each of the two lagoons. We manipulated initial bacterial diversity for experimental communities and immigration during the experiment. We found that the abundance and production of bacterioplankton communities was higher and more stable (lower temporal variance) for treatments with high initial bacterial diversity. Immigration was only marginally beneficial to bacterial communities, probably because microbial communities operate at different time scales compared to the frequency of perturbation selected in this study, and of their intrinsic high physiologic plasticity. Such local "physiological insurance" may have a strong significance for the maintenance of bacterial abundance and production in the face of environmental perturbations.