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Frontiers of Biogeography

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Predicting the direction and magnitude of small mammal disturbance effects on plant diversity across scales


Despite years of research on small mammal disturbance effects on plant diversity, predicting the direction and magnitude of these effects remains elusive. Models such as the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, the perturbation hypothesis, or the ecosystem engineering hypothesis of small mammal disturbance, show considerable overlap but fail to account for key variable interactions and thus provide mainly post hoc explanations. Recent reviews have emphasized the importance of small mammals to basic and applied ecology. Re‐examining the mechanisms underlying their disturbance effects is thus timely. Here I present the Slope‐Hump Model, which integrates previous models and insights from the literature, and which is capable of predicting the direction and relative magnitude of disturbance effects on plant diversity. These predictions qualitatively match the results of recent meta‐analyses. The model also suggests new patterns and predictions that can stimulate both pure and applied ecology research.

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