Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Ecology

Volume

86

Publisher

Ecological Society of America

Publication Date

2005

First Page

567

Last Page

573

Abstract

Evidence from numerous studies suggests that species richness is an emergent property of local communities. The maintenance of species richness, despite changes in species composition and environmental conditions, requires compensatory colonization and extinction events with species coming from a regional pool. Using long-term data from a rodent community in the Chihuahuan Desert, we use randomization methods to test the null hypothesis that changes in species richness occur randomly. We find that the dynamics of species richness differ significantly from a random process, and that these nonrandom dynamics occur largely within the most speciose guild. Finally, we propose a general framework for assessing the importance of species compensation in maintaining biodiversity within local communities. Our results highlight the importance of niche complementarity and compensation in maintaining relatively constant species richness over time.

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