Toward macroecological predictions
Extant community structure is thought to be a function of a number of interacting processes. Species interactions, dispersal, priority effects, coevolution and many other ecological processes may feedback on one another in complex ways, making the prediction of local community composition difficult or impossible.
In a system where regional environmental conditions act as a strong filter for community structure, and dispersal limitation generates marked local patch structure, I'm using experimental clearances to test the relationship between these constraints and the emergence of priority effects during assembly. These experimental clearances, begun in 2013 and replicated at sites along the Oregon coast, are paired with long-term environmental and ecological monitoring at these sites, dating back 30 years, an ideal field "laboratory" setting to explore our predictive capacity in a changing environment.
Barner, Hacker, Menge. Deterministic dynamics of priority effects in intertidal community assembly. Manuscript in preparation.