65 research outputs found

    Relative importance of deterministic and stochastic processes for beta diversity of bird assemblages in Yunnan, China

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    Evaluating the relative importance of deterministic and stochastic processes underlying taxonomic and functional beta diversity is crucial in community ecology, because it can reveal the dominant processes of community assembly. However, studies of bird communities remain rare and of limited spatial extents. In this study, we described the taxonomic and functional beta diversity patterns of 32 passerine bird assemblages of Yunnan Province, China. We constructed null models based on observed species beta diversity and used multiple regressions on distance matrices to evaluate the relative contributions of deterministic and stochastic processes to passerine bird assemblage dissimilarity. Our results showed significant geographic distance decay in taxonomic and functional similarity, with passerine bird assemblages located in the northwest and southwest of the province having higher functional beta diversity values than expected. Environmental distance and geographic distance explained a similar amount taxonomic beta diversity, but environmental distance explained much more functional beta diversity. Our results suggest that both deterministic and stochastic processes drive taxonomic beta diversity, but that deterministic processes, particularly environmental filtering, play a dominant role in driving functional beta diversity of passerine bird assemblages at sub-national scale

    A taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic perspective on the community assembly of passerine birds along an elevational gradient in southwest China

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    Integrating multiple facets of biodiversity to describe spatial and temporal distribution patterns is one way of revealing the mechanisms driving community assembly. We assessed the species, functional, and phylogenetic composition and structure of passerine bird communities along an elevational gradient both in wintering and breeding seasons in the Ailao Mountains, southwest China, in order to identify the dominant ecological processes structuring the communities and how these processes change with elevation and season. Our research confirms that the highest taxonomic diversity, and distinct community composition, was found in the moist evergreen broadleaf forest at high elevation in both seasons. Environmental filtering was the dominant force at high elevations with relatively cold and wet climatic conditions, while the observed value of mean pairwise functional and phylogenetic distances of low elevation was constantly higher than expectation in two seasons, suggested interspecific competition could play the key role at low elevations, perhaps because of relative rich resource result from complex vegetation structure and human-induced disturbance. Across all elevations, there was a trend of decreasing intensity of environmental filtering whereas increasing interspecific competition from wintering season to breeding season. This was likely due to the increased resource availability but reproduction-associated competition in the summer months. In general, there is a clear justification for conservation efforts to protect entire elevational gradients in the Ailao Mountains, given the distinct taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic compositions and also elevational migration pattern in passerine bird communities

    Commonness, rarity, and intraspecific variation in traits and performance in tropical tree seedlings

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    Abstract One of the few rules in ecology is that communities are composed of many rare and few common species. Trait-based investigations of abundance distributions have generally focused on speciesmean trait values with mixed success. Here, using large tropical tree seedling datasets in China and Puerto Rico, we take an alternative approach that considers the magnitude of intraspecific variation in traits and growth as it relates to species abundance. We find that common species are less variable in their traits and growth. Common species also occupy core positions within community trait space indicating that they are finely tuned for the available conditions. Rare species are functionally peripheral and are likely transients struggling for success in the given environment. The work highlights the importance of considering intraspecific variation in trait-based ecology and demonstrates asymmetry in the magnitude of intraspecific variation among species is critical for understanding of how traits are related to abundance

    Lack of phylogenetic signals within environmental niches of tropical tree species across life stages

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    The lasting imprint of phylogenetic history on current day ecological patterns has long intrigued biologists. Over the past decade ecologists have increasingly sought to quantify phylogenetic signals in environmental niche preferences and, especially, traits to help uncover the mechanisms driving plant community assembly. However, relatively little is known about how phylogenetic patterns in environmental niches and traits compare, leaving significant uncertainty about the ecological implications of trait-based analyses. We examined phylogenetic signals within known environmental niches of 64 species, at seedling and adult life stages, in a Chinese tropical forest, to test whether local environmental niches had consistent relationships with phylogenies. Our analyses show that local environmental niches are highly phylogenetically labile for both seedlings and adult trees, with closely related species occupying niches that are no more similar than expected by random chance. These findings contrast with previous trait-based studies in the same forest, suggesting that phylogenetic signals in traits might not a reliable guide to niche preferences or, therefore, to community assembly processes in some ecosystems, like the tropical seasonal rainforest in this study

    Tree diversity depending on environmental gradients promotes biomass stability via species asynchrony in China's forest ecosystems

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    There is mounting evidence that biodiversity promotes ecological stability in changing environments. However, understanding diversity‚Äďstability relationships and their underlying mechanisms across large-scale tree diversity and natural environmental gradients are still controversial and largely lacking. We used thirty-nine 0.12 ha long-term permanent forest plots spanning China's various forest types to test the effects of multiple abiotic (climate, soil, age and topography) and biotic factors (taxonomic and structural diversity, functional diversity and community-mean traits, and species asynchrony) on biomass stability and its components (mean biomass and biomass variability) over time. We used multiple analytical methods to identify the best explanatory variables and complicated causal relationships for community biomass stability. Our results showed that species richness increased biomass stability by promoting species asynchrony. Structural and functional diversity had a weaker effect on biomass stability. Forest age and structural diversity increased mean biomass and biomass variability significantly and simultaneously. Communities dominated by tree species with high wood density had high biomass stability. Soil nitrogen enhanced biomass stability directly and indirectly through its effects on mean biomass. Soil nitrogen to phosphorus ratio increased biomass stability via increasing species asynchrony. Precipitation indirectly increased biomass stability by affecting tree diversity. Moreover, the direct and indirect effects of soil nutrients on biomass stability were greater than that of climate variables. Our results suggest that species asynchrony is the main mechanism proposed to explain the stabilizing effect of diversity on community biomass, supporting two mechanisms, namely, the biodiversity insurance hypothesis and complementary dynamics. Soil and climate factors also play an important role in shaping diversity‚Äďstability relationships. Our results provide a new insight into how tree diversity affects ecosystem stability across diverse community types and large-scale environmental gradients

    The role of functional uniqueness and spatial aggregation in explaining rarity in trees

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    Aim: Determining the drivers of species rarity is fundamental for understanding and conserving biodiversity. Rarity of a given species within its community may arise due to exclusion by other ecologically similar species. Conversely, rare species may occupy habitats that are rare in the landscape or they may be ill-suited to all available habitats. The first mechanism would lead to common and rare species occupying similar ecological space defined by functional traits. The second mechanism would result in common and rare species occupying dissimilar ecological space and spatial aggregation of rare species, either because they are specialists in rare habitats or because rare species tend to be dispersal limited. Here, we quantified the contribution of locally rare species to community functional richness and the spatial aggregation of species across tree communities world-wide to address these hypotheses. Location: Asia and the Americas. Time period: 2002 to 2012 (period that considers the censuses for the plots used). Major taxa studied: Angiosperm and Gymnosperm trees. Methods: We compiled a dataset of functional traits from all the species present in eight tree plots around the world to evaluate the contribution of locally rare species to tree community functional richness using multi- and univariate approaches. We also quantified the spatial aggregation of individuals within species at several spatial scales as it relates to abundance. Results: Locally rare tree species in temperate and tropical forests tended to be functionally unique and are consistently spatially clustered. Furthermore, there is no evidence that this pattern is driven by pioneer species being locally rare. Main conclusions: This evidence shows that locally rare tree species disproportionately contribute to community functional richness, and we can therefore reject the hypothesis that locally rare species are suppressed by ecologically similar, but numerically dominant, species. Rather, locally rare species are likely to be specialists on spatially rare habitats or they may be ill-suited to the locally available environments

    Underestimated ecosystem carbon turnover time and sequestration under the steady state assumption: a perspective from long‚Äźterm data assimilation

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    It is critical to accurately estimate carbon (C) turnover time as it dominates the uncertainty in ecosystem C sinks and their response to future climate change. In the absence of direct observations of ecosystem C losses, C turnover times are commonly estimated under the steady state assumption (SSA), which has been applied across a large range of temporal and spatial scales including many at which the validity of the assumption is likely to be violated. However, the errors associated with improperly applying SSA to estimate C turnover time and its covariance with climate as well as ecosystem C sequestrations have yet to be fully quantified. Here, we developed a novel model-data fusion framework and systematically analyzed the SSA-induced biases using time-series data collected from 10 permanent forest plots in the eastern China monsoon region. The results showed that (a) the SSA significantly underestimated mean turnover times (MTTs) by 29%, thereby leading to a 4.83-fold underestimation of the net ecosystem productivity (NEP) in these forest ecosystems, a major C sink globally; (b) the SSA-induced bias in MTT and NEP correlates negatively with forest age, which provides a significant caveat for applying the SSA to young-aged ecosystems; and (c) the sensitivity of MTT to temperature and precipitation was 22% and 42% lower, respectively, under the SSA. Thus, under the expected climate change, spatiotemporal changes in MTT are likely to be underestimated, thereby resulting in large errors in the variability of predicted global NEP. With the development of observation technology and the accumulation of spatiotemporal data, we suggest estimating MTTs at the disequilibrium state via long-term data assimilation, thereby effectively reducing the uncertainty in ecosystem C sequestration estimations and providing a better understanding of regional or global C cycle dynamics and C-climate feedback

    Direct and indirect effects of climate on richness drive the latitudinal diversity gradient in forest trees

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    Data accessibility statement: Full census data are available upon reasonable request from the ForestGEO data portal, http://ctfs.si.edu/datarequest/ We thank Margie Mayfield, three anonymous reviewers and Jacob Weiner for constructive comments on the manuscript. This study was financially supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (2017YFC0506100), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31622014 and 31570426), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (17lgzd24) to CC. XW was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDB3103). DS was supported by the Czech Science Foundation (grant no. 16-26369S). Yves Rosseel provided us valuable suggestions on using the lavaan package conducting SEM analyses. Funding and citation information for each forest plot is available in the Supplementary Information Text 1.Peer reviewedPostprin
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