Understanding arid-region waterbird community dynamics during lake dry-downs

Cumming, Graeme S., Henry, Dominic A.W., Mutumi, Gregory L., and Ndlovu, Mduduzi (2021) Understanding arid-region waterbird community dynamics during lake dry-downs. Ecosphere, 12 (8). e03668.

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Abstract

The community dynamics of organisms that exhibit multi-scale responses to habitat change are poorly understood. We quantified changes in species diversity and the functional composition of a waterbird community over two iterations of a repeated transition, the annual drying-down of arid-region Lake Ngami, Botswana. We used our data to test three theoretical predictions: simplification of the bird community over time due to a reduction in habitat area and concurrent niche loss; large fluctuations in densities of mobile, opportunistic species; and high variance in predator and prey abundance. Despite temporal variance in species accumulation, we observed no obvious simplification and distinct but consistent groupings of abundance and composition across transitional stages. There were some rapid shifts in functional composition, such as loss of deepwater foragers; winners and losers also occurred within foraging guilds. We conclude that understanding community-level trends during transitional periods will require stronger theoretical frameworks that more effectively integrate unique species traits and functional groups. For conservation managers, our study offers a cautionary tale of the importance of understanding connectivity, trajectories of change, and the potential for large fluctuations in animal communities independent of management actions during periods of ecological transition.

Item ID: 70204
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2150-8925
Keywords: Africa, bird, Botswana, disturbance, drought, regime shift, resilience, wetland
Copyright Information: © 2021 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons AttributionLicense, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2022 22:44
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310304 Freshwater ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1803 Fresh, ground and surface water systems and management > 180305 Ground water quantification, allocation and impact of depletion @ 100%
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