# Erik Solbu

## Research Scientist

(+47) 975 84 012

erik.solbu@nibio.no

Place

Trondheim

Visiting address

Klæbuveien 153, bygg C 1.etasje, 7031 Trondheim

#### Abstract

We propose that the ecological resilience of communities to permanent changes of the environment can be based on how variation in the overall abundance of individuals affects the number of species. Community sensitivity is defined as the ratio between the rate of change in the log expected number of species and the rate of change in the log expected number of individuals in the community. High community sensitivity means that small changes in the total abundance strongly impact the number of species. Community resistance is the proportional reduction in expected number of individuals that the community can sustain before expecting to lose one species. A small value of community resistance means that the community can only endure a small reduction in abundance before it is expected to lose one species. Based on long-term studies of four bird communities in European deciduous forests at different latitudes large differences were found in the resilience to environmental perturbations. Estimating the variance components of the species abundance distribution revealed how different processes contributed to the community sensitivity and resistance. Species heterogeneity in the population dynamics was the largest component, but its proportion varied among communities. Species-specific response to environmental fluctuations was the second major component of the variation in abundance. Estimates of community sensitivity and resistance based on data only from a single year were in general larger than those based on estimates from longer time series. Thus, our approach can provide rapid and conservative assessment of the resilience of communities to environmental changes also including only short-term data. This study shows that a general ecological mechanism, caused by increased strength of density dependence due to reduction in resource availability, can provide an intuitive measure of community resilience to environmental variation. Our analyses also illustrate the importance of including specific assumptions about how different processes affect community dynamics. For example, if stochastic fluctuations in the environment affect all species in a similar way, the sensitivity and resistance of the community to environmental changes will be different from communities in which all species show independent responses.

#### Abstract

Understanding the mechanisms of ecological community dynamics and how they could be affected by environmental changes is important. Population dynamic models have well known ecological parameters that describe key characteristics of species such as the effect of environmental noise and demographic variance on the dynamics, the long-term growth rate, and strength of density regulation. These parameters are also central for detecting and understanding changes in communities of species; however, incorporating such vital parameters into models of community dynamics is challenging. In this paper, we demonstrate how generalized linear mixed models specified as intercept-only models with different random effects can be used to fit dynamic species abundance distributions. Each random effect has an ecologically meaningful interpretation either describing general and species-specific responses to environmental stochasticity in time or space, or variation in growth rate and carrying capacity among species. We use simulations to show that the accuracy of the estimation depends on the strength of density regulation in discrete population dynamics. The estimation of different covariance and population dynamic parameters, with corresponding statistical uncertainties, is demonstrated for case studies of fish and bat communities. We find that species heterogeneity is the main factor of spatial and temporal community similarity for both case studies.

#### Abstract

1. It is common practice for ecologists to examine species niches in the study of community composition. The response curve of a species in the fundamental niche is usually assumed to be quadratic. The centre of a quadratic curve represents a species' optimal environmental conditions, and the width its ability to tolerate deviations from the optimum. 2. Most multivariate methods assume species respond linearly to niche axes, or with a quadratic curve that is of equal width for all species. However, it is widely understood that some species have the ability to better tolerate deviations from their optimal environment (generalists) compared to other (specialist) species. Rare species often tolerate a smaller range of environments than more common species, corresponding to a narrow niche. 3. We propose a new method, for ordination and fitting Joint Species Distribution Models, based on Generalized Linear Mixed-effects Models, which relaxes the assumptions of equal tolerances. 4. By explicitly estimating species maxima, and species optima and tolerances per ecological gradient, we can better explore how species relate to each other.