Removing the confounding effect of habitat specialization reveals the stabilizing contribution of diversity to species variability
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Earlier studies have found that diversity, S, stabilizes the relative variability of combined biomass or abundance of species making up a community. However, the effect of S on variability of constituent species has been elusive. We hypothesize that the proportion of specialists increases with S and, because specialists are more variable, this shift in composition will mask the stabilizing effect of S on populations of species making up a community. The test uses data on variability and ecological specialization of species in 49 natural rock pool invertebrate communities. Initial analyses produced inconclusive results similar to earlier studies. However, when variability owing to species' specialization was factored out, S reduced species' abundance variability, although not in all communities. Our study explains why the stabilizing effect of diversity on populations has not been found earlier.
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