Trait-based ecology argues that an understanding of the traits of interactors can enhance the predictability of ecological outcomes. We examine here whether the multidimensional behavioural-trait diversity of communities influences community performance and stability in situ. We created experimental communities of web-building spiders, each with an identical species composition. Communities contained one individual of each of five different species. Prior to establishing these communities in the field, we examined three behavioural traits for each individual spider. These behavioural measures allowed us to estimate community-wide behavioural diversity, as inferred by the multidimensional behavioural volume occupied by the entire community. Communities that occupied a larger region of behavioural-trait space (i.e. where spiders differed more from each other behaviourally) gained more mass and were less likely to disband. Thus, there is a community-wide benefit to multidimensional behavioural diversity in this system that might translate to other multispecies assemblages.
- Received June 21, 2016.
- Accepted November 9, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.