Continental-scale effects of environmental variability on salt marsh plant communities

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Species richness. Larger circles indicate more species (from Noto and Shurin 2017, Oikos)

Environmental variability is predicted to increase with climate change, but its effects on community diversity and stability are not yet well understood. Yet many experimental studies of the impacts of climate change continue to manipulate means but not variability. Using long-term data from 11 salt marshes across the US, I examined current patterns of diversity and stability in relation to mean temperature and precipitation as well as interannual variation in those two climatic measures. Diversity and stability were more closely related to means than to interannual variation with cool, dry sites having more species and more turnover among years. This suggests that mean conditions are currently still good predictors of community dynamics, but this may change as interannual variation increases.

Relevant papers: Noto and Shurin 2017 Oikos