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Vannette RL and Fukami T. 2017. Dispersal enhances beta diversity in nectar microbes. Ecology Letters 20: 901–910. doi:10.1111/ele.12787
Year Published: 2017
Abstract: 

Dispersal is considered a key driver of beta diversity, the variation in species composition among local communities, but empirical tests remain limited. We manipulated dispersal of nectar-inhabiting bacteria and yeasts via flower-visiting animals to examine how dispersal influenced microbial beta diversity among flowers. Contrary to the prevailing view that dispersal lowers beta diversity, we found beta diversity was highest when dispersal was least limited. Our analysis suggested that this unexpected pattern might have resulted from stronger priority effects under increased dispersal. Dispersal is highly stochastic, generating variability in species arrival history and consequently the potential for community divergence via priority effects, in these and likely many other microbial, plant, and animal communities. Yet most previous experiments eliminated this possibility. We suggest that the positive effects of dispersal on beta diversity, like the one we report here, may have been greatly underappreciated. (link to publication)