Trait similarity, shared ancestry and the structure of neighbourhood interactions in a subtropical wet forest: implications for community assembly

Uriarte, Maria; Swenson, Nathan G.; Chazdon, Robin L.; Comita, Liza S.; Kress, W. John; Forero-Montana, Jimena; Zimmerman, Jess K.; Thompson, Jill. 2010 Trait similarity, shared ancestry and the structure of neighbourhood interactions in a subtropical wet forest: implications for community assembly. Ecology Letters, 13. 1503-1514. 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01541.x

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Abstract: The phylogenetic structure and distribution of functional traits in a community can provide insights into community assembly processes. However, these insights are sensitive to the spatial scale of analysis. Here, we use spatially explicit, neighbourhood models of tree growth and survival for 19 tree species, a highly resolved molecular phylogeny and information on eight functional traits to quantify the relative efficacy of functional similarity and shared ancestry in describing the effects of spatial interactions between tree species on demographic rates. We also assess the congruence of these results with observed phylogenetic and functional structure in the neighbourhoods of live and dead trees. We found strong support for models in which the effects of spatial neighbourhood interactions on tree growth and survival were scaled to species-specific mean functional trait values (e.g., wood specific gravity, leaf succulence and maximum height) but not to phylogenetic distance. The weak phylogenetic signal in functional trait data allowed us to independently interpret the static neighbourhood functional and phylogenetic patterns. We observed greater functional trait similarity in the neighbourhoods of live trees relative to those of dead trees suggesting that environmental filtering is the major force structuring this tree community at this scale while competitive interactions play a lesser role.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01541.x
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 2 - Ecological Processes in the Environment > BD - 2.1 - Interactions ... structure ecosystems and their functioning
CEH Sections: Watt
ISSN: 1461-023X
Additional Keywords: environmental filtering, Luquillo Forest Dynamics Plot, niche differentiation, phylogenetic conservatism, spatially explicit models, species interactions
NORA Subject Terms: Botany
Biology and Microbiology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 17 Feb 2011 09:17 +0 (UTC)

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