A synthesis of LTER community data to test metacommunity theory under different ecological conditions
The Objectives of the effort is to: (1) Assess our new generalized metacommunity model (Fig 1b), which is based on previous work (Sokol et al. 2011), and provides a mechanism to use the axes that define metacommunity state space (Fig 1a) to predict metacommunity diversity. We will use data packages from the LTER NIS to identify realistic parameter ranges for values that can be directly observed from in situ data sets, and conduct a sensitivity analysis to determine how commonly used measures of diversity vary as a function of state space. (2) Use LTER data to identify the types of ecological processes that organize metacommunities across a diverse range of ecosystems by comparing diversity patterns from in situ metacommunities against diversity patterns produced from simulations with known parameter values. We will focus on predictions relating to diversity partitioning (how much total beta-diversity?) and variance partitioning (how much beta-diversity is organized by environmental vs. spatial influences?). (3) This project will provide a unique opportunity to review the multidisciplinary, collaborative process. We will propose an article for Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, to document changes that have occurred in the rapidly evolving LTER NIS (since Peters 2010), and serve as a guide for future biodiversity synthesis projects.