A test of community reassembly using the exotic communities of New Zealandroadsides in comparison to British roadsides

Jb. Wilson et al., A test of community reassembly using the exotic communities of New Zealandroadsides in comparison to British roadsides, J ECOLOGY, 88(5), 2000, pp. 757-764
Citations number
Categorie Soggetti
Journal title
ISSN journal
0022-0477 → ACNP
Year of publication
757 - 764
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1 Competing theories of community assembly are very difficult to test. Four main theories exist. The Stochastic theory sees species assembly as being random. The Humpty Dumpty/Alternative Stable States (ASS) theory suggests t hat a community may be unable to reassemble itself from its constituent spe cies. The Deterministic theory suggests there will be convergence to one st able state. The Pre-adaptation theory is similar to the Deterministic theor y but emphasizes that many species fit the stable state because of characte rs acquired elsewhere. 2 The reassembly of a flora into new communities in a different country, or its assimilation as a major component of such communities, offers a means to test these theories. The invasion of British plant species into New Zeal and, and their reassembly into roadside communities there, is a good exampl e of such a natural experiment. 3 Plant communities of NZ roadsides were compared to the communities of the British National Vegetation Classification (NVC). British roadside communi ties were also compared to the NVC as a control. New Zealand roadside commu nities provided a fit to the NVC communities of only 54.7% on average. Afte r excluding species that are not present in NZ, and therefore could not pos sibly reassemble, the fit increased to 61.1%. British roadsides gave a 65.8 % fit. The NZ figures are similar to the fit obtained with random data (58. 7%), indicating that the NZ communities bear little relation to the ones fo rmed by the same species in Britain. 4 Similarity between roadside communities in NZ and Britain was low, formin g two almost distinct sets of communities. 5 Some of the predictions of the Stochastic, Humpty Dumpty/ASS and Determin istic models are borne out, but others are not. It is concluded that Britis h species have reassembled into communities in NZ most of which are new, i. e. distinct from those that occur in the native range of the species in Bri tain. The evidence points to a process of community assembly by pre-adaptat ion.