Predictions of biodiversity and stability can be biased towards active and abundant species within communities. However, an overwhelming majority of organisms in nature are dormant or inactive. Through various mechanisms, organisms can transition from an active to a dormant state to survive suboptimal conditions, harsh environments, and periods of strong competition. Although dormant organisms may not interact with other species, dormancy is reversible and transitions to and from a dormant state may be stochastic or correlated with biotic and abiotic factors within the environment. Dormancy generates a seed bank of genotypes with the ability to resuscitate individuals in the right conditions and possibly mitigate the effects of environmental change. The resurrection of dormant individuals can offer variation in community assembly with the possibility that the post-disturbance community looks more like the seed bank following environmental changes.
Across ecosystems, some species can persist with very low abundances without entering dormancy. Despite their number, rare taxa can directly or indirectly alter species interactions. Interactions with rare taxa may also influence the colonization patterns of abundant taxa and buffer priority effects. Following a disturbance, conditionally rare species may find their altered environment accommodating to large population sizes and therefore grow unpredictably. Thus, understanding the role of dormancy and rarity in community dynamics is crucial to predict ecosystem function and stability in changing environments.
Our goal is to advance research at the intersection of dormancy, rarity, and its effects on species interactions and stability. Throughout this session, we aim to inspire new modeling frameworks, discuss empirical tools and connect concepts. The session will help resolve unexplained variations in empirical data and ecological models and untangle the tangled banks of ecology while contributing to broader impacts in conservation and resource management.
Presenting Author: NIcholas Kortessis, Department of Biology – Wake Forest University
Presenting Author: Ashley Shade, Institut Écologie et Environnement – Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
Co-author: Sreejata Bandopadhyay – Michigan State Unviersity
Co-author: XingXing Li – Michigan State Unviersity
Co-author: Robert Last – Michigan State Unviersity
Presenting Author: Julie Larson – USDA-Agricultural Research Service
Co-author: Stella Copeland – USDA-Agricultural Research Service
Presenting Author: Lauren Shoemaker – University of Wyoming
Co-author: Chhaya Werner – University of Southern Oregon, Environmental Science, Policy, & Sustainability
Co-author: Nathan Wisnoski – Mississippi State University
Co-author: Lauren M. Hallett – University of Oregon