Type of disturbance and ecological history determine structural stability

A.W.G. van der Wurff, S.A.E. Kools, M.E.Y. Boivin, P.J. van den Brink, H.H.B. van Megen, J.A.G. Riksen, A. Doroszuk, J.E. Kammenga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study aims to reveal whether complexity, namely, community and trophic structure, of chronically stressed soil systems is at increased risk or remains stable when confronted with a subsequent disturbance. Therefore, we focused on a grassland with a history of four centuries of patchy contamination. Nematodes were used as model organisms because they are an abundant and trophically diverse group and representative of the soil food web and ecosystem complexity. In a field survey, a relationship between contaminants and community structures was established. Following, two groups of soil mesocosms from the field that differed in contamination level were exposed to different disturbance regimes, namely, to the contaminant zinc and a heat shock. The zinc treatment revealed that community structure is stable, irrespective of soil contamination levels. This implies that centuries of exposure to contamination led to adaptation of the soil nematode community irrespective of the patchy distribution of contaminants. In contrast, the heat shock had adverse effects on species richness in the highly contaminated soils only. The total nematode biomass was lower in the highly contaminated field samples; however, the biomass was not affected by zinc and heat treatments of the mesocosms. This means that density compensation occurred rapidly, i.e., tolerant species quickly replaced sensitive species. Our results support the hypothesis that the history of contamination and the type of disturbance determine the response of communities. Despite that ecosystems may be exposed for centuries to contamination and communities show adaptation, biodiversity in highly contaminated sites is at increased risk when exposed to a different disturbance regime. We discuss how the loss of higher trophic levels from the entire system, such as represented by carnivorous nematodes after the heat shock, accompanied by local biodiversity loss at highly contaminated sites, may result in detrimental effects on ecosystem functions.
LanguageEnglish
Pages190-202
JournalEcological Applications
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Fingerprint

nematode
heat shock
disturbance
history
community structure
zinc
soil
pollutant
biodiversity
trophic structure
ecosystem
biomass
ecosystem function
trophic level
field survey
food web
species richness
grassland
contamination
loss

Keywords

  • induced community tolerance
  • nematode caenorhabditis-elegans
  • microbial communities
  • ecosystem function
  • soil
  • biodiversity
  • diversity
  • toxicity
  • copper
  • responses

Cite this

van der Wurff, A.W.G. ; Kools, S.A.E. ; Boivin, M.E.Y. ; van den Brink, P.J. ; van Megen, H.H.B. ; Riksen, J.A.G. ; Doroszuk, A. ; Kammenga, J.E. / Type of disturbance and ecological history determine structural stability. In: Ecological Applications. 2007 ; Vol. 17, No. 1. pp. 190-202.
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Type of disturbance and ecological history determine structural stability. / van der Wurff, A.W.G.; Kools, S.A.E.; Boivin, M.E.Y.; van den Brink, P.J.; van Megen, H.H.B.; Riksen, J.A.G.; Doroszuk, A.; Kammenga, J.E.

In: Ecological Applications, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2007, p. 190-202.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Type of disturbance and ecological history determine structural stability

AU - van der Wurff, A.W.G.

AU - Kools, S.A.E.

AU - Boivin, M.E.Y.

AU - van den Brink, P.J.

AU - van Megen, H.H.B.

AU - Riksen, J.A.G.

AU - Doroszuk, A.

AU - Kammenga, J.E.

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KW - nematode caenorhabditis-elegans

KW - microbial communities

KW - ecosystem function

KW - soil

KW - biodiversity

KW - diversity

KW - toxicity

KW - copper

KW - responses

U2 - 10.1890/1051-0761(2007)017[0190:TODAEH]2.0.CO;2

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M3 - Article

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SP - 190

EP - 202

JO - Ecological Applications

T2 - Ecological Applications

JF - Ecological Applications

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