Mechanisms of convergence and divergence: understanding the variability of plant community responses to multiple resource manipulations

Introduction and Goals

Ecologists have been tasked with predicting how communities will respond to altered environmental conditions in the face of global change. This task, however, is complicated by the inherent complexity of many ecological systems. Indeed, within a system the species composition of experimental replicates does not always respond to resource manipulations in similar ways; instead replicates can diverge to form distinct alternative community types. An understanding of the processes leading to such divergence is currently lacking.