Multimodality in diversity-disturbance relationships for generalized
Disturbance has long been recognized as a critical driver of species
diversity in community ecology. Recently, it has been found that the
well-known intermediate disturbance hypothesis, which predicts a
unimodal diversity-disturbance relationship (DDR), fails to describe
numerous experimental observations, as empirical DDRs are diverse.
Consequently, the precise form of the DDR remains a topic of debate.
Here we develop a simple yet comprehensive metacommunity framework that
can account for complex competition patterns. Using both numerical
simulations and analytical arguments, we show that strongly multimodal
DDRs arise naturally, and this multimodality is quite robust to changing
parameters or relaxing the assumption of a strict competitive hierarchy.
Having multimodality as a robust property of DDRs in competition models
suggests that much of the noise observed in empirical DDRs should be a
critical signature of the underlying competitive dynamics.