Contributions Large and Small

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Science  10 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5532, pp. 1017
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5532.1017b

The ecology of common species, for obvious reasons, tends to be better known than that of rare species. In a series of experiments in a California grassland ecosystem, Lyons and Schwartz have uncovered an unexpected role for the rarer plant species. The removal of rare species from experimental plots led to greater susceptibility to successful invasion by an exotic ryegrass (Lolium temulentum), suggesting that rare species contribute to the resistance of ecological communities to invasion. In the face of increasing threats to natural ecosystems from invasion by exotics, this result adds to the growing realization of the intrinsic conservation benefits of maintaining diversity. — AMS

Ecol. Lett.4, 358 (2001).

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