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The Effects of Succession on Niche Breadth and Overlap in a Hot Spring Algal Community

Russell G. Kullberg and John S. Scheibe
The American Midland Naturalist
Vol. 121, No. 1 (Jan., 1989), pp. 21-31
DOI: 10.2307/2425653
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2425653
Page Count: 11
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Effects of Succession on Niche Breadth and Overlap in a Hot Spring Algal Community
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Abstract

An experimental approach was used to evaluate the effect of interspecific competition on succession in a hot spring algal community in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. The algae in the spring were sampled at ten, 10-m intervals along a thermal gradient from 57.2 C to 45.7 C. Percent frequency of each algal species in each sample was determined using standard microscopic techniques. Following the initial sampling, algae were removed from the hot spring substrate by sweeping. Successional buildup of the algae community was then monitored by sampling at the same 10-m intervals at 1, 3, 5 and 7 wk after the disturbance. Distributions of the 14 major species along the thermal and temporal gradients were analyzed using stepwise multiple regression techniques. The niche breadth of each species and the interspecific overlaps were also analyzed along the temporal gradient. The major algal species were distributed differently with respect to the thermal gradient, and the distributions of the species along the thermal gradient changed significantly from the initial sampling to the 7th wk after removal, After removal, niche breadths and inter-specific overlaps increased until about the 3rd wk. However, from the 3rd wk to the 7th wk, mean niche breadth and overlap decreased to a point similar to those of the predisturbance community. These patterns are consistent with the hypothesis that significant competition for space occurs following the establishment of an algal mat.

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