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Temporal turnover in the composition of tropical tree communities: functional determinism and phylogenetic stochasticity

Swenson, Nathan G.; Stegen, James C.; Davies, Stuart J.; Erickson, David L.; Forero-Montaña, Jimena; Hurlbert, Allen H.; Kress, W. John; Thompson, Jill; Uriarte, María; Wright, S. Joseph; Zimmerman, Jess K.. 2012 Temporal turnover in the composition of tropical tree communities: functional determinism and phylogenetic stochasticity. Ecology, 93 (3). 490-499. 10.1890/11-1180.1

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Abstract/Summary

The degree to which turnover in biological communities is structured by deterministic or stochastic factors and the identities of influential deterministic factors are fundamental, yet unresolved, questions in ecology. Answers to these questions are particularly important for projecting the fate of forests with diverse disturbance histories worldwide. To uncover the processes governing turnover we use species-level molecular phylogenies and functional trait data sets for two long-term tropical forest plots with contrasting disturbance histories: one forest is older-growth, and one was recently disturbed. Having both phylogenetic and functional information further allows us to parse out the deterministic influences of different ecological filters. With the use of null models we find that compositional turnover was random with respect to phylogeny on average, but highly nonrandom with respect to measured functional traits. Furthermore, as predicted by a deterministic assembly process, the older-growth and disturbed forests were characterized by less than and greater than expected functional turnover, respectively. These results suggest that the abiotic environment, which changes due to succession in the disturbed forest, strongly governs the temporal dynamics of disturbed and undisturbed tropical forests. Predicting future changes in the composition of disturbed and undisturbed forests may therefore be tractable when using a functional-trait-based approach.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1890/11-1180.1
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 onwards > Biodiversity
CEH Sections: Watt
ISSN: 0012-9658
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: The attached docuemnt is Copyright of the Ecological Society of America
Additional Keywords: beta diversity, community dynamics, community phylogenetics, functional ecology, functional traits, neutral theory, Panama, Puerto Rico, tropical forest
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 14 May 2012 14:48
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/18028

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