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How frequency and intensity shape diversity-disturbance relationships.

Abstract

Understanding the relationship between disturbance regimes and species diversity has been of central interest to ecologists for decades. For example, the intermediate disturbance hypothesis proposes that diversity will be highest at intermediate levels of disturbance. Although peaked (hump-shaped) diversity-disturbance relationships (DDRs) have been documented in nature, many other DDRs have been reported as well. Here, we begin to theoretically unify these diverse empirical findings by showing how a single simple model can generate several different DDRs, depending on the aspect of disturbance that is considered. Additionally, we elucidate the competition-mediated mechanism underlying our results. Our findings have the potential to reconcile apparently conflicting empirical results on the effects of disturbance on diversity.

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