Diversity-disturbance relationships: Frequency and intensity interact

Alex R. Hall, Adam D. Miller, Helen C. Leggett, Stephen H. Roxburgh, Angus Buckling, Katriona Shea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


An influential ecological theory, the intermediate disturbance hypothesis (IDH), predicts that intermediate levels of disturbance will maximize species diversity. Empirical studies, however, have described a wide variety of diversity-disturbance relationships (DDRs). Using experimental populations of microbes, we show that the form of the DDR depends on an interaction between disturbance frequency and intensity. We find that diversity shows a monotonically increasing, unimodal or flat relationship with disturbance, depending on the values of the disturbance aspects considered. These results confirm recent theoretical predictions, and potentially reconcile the conflicting body of empirical evidence on DDRs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)768-771
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 23 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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