Disturbance is a key factor shaping ecological communities, but little is understood about how the effects of disturbance processes accumulate over time. When disturbance regimes change, historical processes may influence future community structure, for example, by altering invasibility compared to communities with stable regimes. Here, we use an annual plant model to investigate how the history of disturbance alters invasion success. In particular, we show how two communities can have different outcomes from species introduction, solely due to past differences in disturbance regimes that generated different biotic legacies. We demonstrate that historical differences can enhance or suppress the persistence of introduced species, and that biotic legacies generated by stable disturbance history decay over time, though legacies can persist for unexpectedly long durations. This establishes a formal theoretical foundation for disturbance legacies having profound effects on communities, and highlights the value of further research on the biotic legacies of disturbance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics