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- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Biotic interactions are the dominant drivers of phylogenetic and functional structure in bird communities along a tropical elevational gradientAbstract Understanding how biotic and abiotic interactions influence community assembly and composition is a fundamental goal in community ecology. Addressing this issue is particularly tractable along elevational gradients in tropical mountains that feature substantial abiotic gradients and rates of species turnover. We examined elevational patterns of avian community structure on 2 mountains in Malaysian Borneo to assess changes in the relative strength of biotic interactions and abiotic constraints. In particular, we used metrics based on (1) phylogenetic relatedness and (2) functional traits associated with both resource acquisition and tolerance of abiotic challenges to identify patterns and causes of elevational differences in community structure. High elevation communities were composed of more phylogenetically and functionally similar species than would be expected by chance. Resource acquisition traits, in particular, were clustered at high elevations, suggesting low resource and habitat diversity were important drivers of those communities. Traits typically associated with tolerance of cold temperatures and low atmospheric pressure showed no elevational patterns. All traits were neutral or overdispersed at low elevations suggesting an absence of strong abiotic filters or an increased influence of interspecific competition. However, relative bill size, which is important for thermoregulation, was larger in low elevation communities, suggesting abiotic factorsmore »
Trait-Based Investigation Reveals Patterns of Community Response to Nutrient Enrichment in Coastal Mesic GrasslandDespite recent advances, we still do not understand how chronic nutrient enrichment impacts coastal plant community structure and function. We aimed to clarify such impacts by testing for differences in ecosystem productivity and multiple community metrics in response to fertilization. We established plots in 2015 consisting of control (C), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and nitrogen + phosphorus (NP) treatments in a mid-Atlantic coastal grassland. In 2017 we collected aboveground biomass, functional traits, and species abundance for each plot. Our findings indicate a synergistic co-limitation, such that NP plots were more productive than all other treatments. A combination of traits responsible for competition and nutrient uptake (i.e., height and δ15N) caused trait-based divergence of N and NP plots from C and P plots. Functional trait-based composition patterns differed from species composition and lifeform abundance patterns, highlighting complexities of community response to nutrient enrichment. While trait-based functional alpha-diversity did not differ among nutrient treatments, it was positively correlated with biomass production, suggesting nutrients may impact functional alpha-diversity indirectly through increased productivity. Increased functional alpha-diversity could be a mechanism of co-existence emerging as productivity increases. These results have important implications for understanding how plant communities in low-productivity coastal systems are altered by fertilization.
Epibiont community composition of red mangroves Rhizophora mangle are contingent on root characteristicsFoundation species traits that structure communities are rarely experimentally examined; thus, a predictive understanding of their functions lags behind patterns of observed species associations. Red mangrove Rhizophora mangle roots form complex living habitats that support diverse epibiont communities, making them a model system for testing links between variation in foundation species traits and associated biodiversity. Here, we compared epibiont community composition between living and non-living mangrove roots, as well as root mimics, to test how foundation species traits affect community structure. We also quantified the community structure of associated mobile invertebrates to examine their relationship with secondary foundation species (e.g. sponges, bivalves) that grow on the roots. After 14 mo of colonization and succession, substrate composition (i.e. mangrove, wood, PVC) had significant effects on community composition, richness, and abundance of sessile epibionts and mobile invertebrates. Non-living mangrove roots were 5 times more likely to deteriorate, and consequently had the lowest epibiont richness and abundance. We found strong positive relationships between mobile invertebrate richness and the abundance, measured as biomass, and richness of sponges and bivalves, suggesting that variation among roots in secondary foundation species play an important role in mediating mobile invertebrate community composition. This study highlights the functional rolemore »
Environmental and spatial drivers of taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic characteristics of bat communities in human-modified landscapes
Assembly of species into communities following human disturbance (e.g., deforestation, fragmentation) may be governed by spatial (e.g., dispersal) or environmental (e.g., niche partitioning) mechanisms. Variation partitioning has been used to broadly disentangle spatial and environmental mechanisms, and approaches utilizing functional and phylogenetic characteristics of communities have been implemented to determine the relative importance of particular environmental (or niche-based) mechanisms. Nonetheless, few studies have integrated these quantitative approaches to comprehensively assess the relative importance of particular structuring processes.
We employed a novel variation partitioning approach to evaluate the relative importance of particular spatial and environmental drivers of taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic aspects of bat communities in a human-modified landscape in Costa Rica. Specifically, we estimated the amount of variation in species composition (taxonomic structure) and in two aspects of functional and phylogenetic structure (i.e., composition and dispersion) along a forest loss and fragmentation gradient that are uniquely explained by landscape characteristics (i.e., environment) or space to assess the importance of competing mechanisms.
The unique effects of space on taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic structure were consistently small. In contrast, landscape characteristics (i.e., environment) played an appreciable role in structuring bat communities. Spatially-structured landscape characteristics explained 84% of the variation in functional ormore »
Variation among bat communities was related to environmental mechanisms, especially niche-based (i.e., environmental) processes, rather than spatial mechanisms. High variation in functional or phylogenetic dispersion, as opposed to functional or phylogenetic composition, suggests that loss or gain of niche space is driving the progressive loss or gain of species with particular traits from communities along the human-modified gradient. Thus, environmental characteristics associated with landscape structure influence functional or phylogenetic aspects of bat communities by effectively altering the ways in which species partition niche space.
Trait-based filtering mediates the effects of realistic biodiversity losses on ecosystem functioning
Biodiversity losses are a major driver of global changes in ecosystem functioning. While most studies of the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning have examined randomized species losses, trait-based filtering associated with species-specific vulnerability to drivers of diversity loss can strongly influence how ecosystem functioning responds to declining biodiversity. Moreover, the responses of ecosystem functioning to diversity loss may be mediated by environmental variability interacting with the suite of traits remaining in depauperate communities. We do not yet understand how communities resulting from realistic diversity losses (filtered by response traits) influence ecosystem functioning (via effect traits of the remaining community), especially under variable environmental conditions. Here, we directly test how realistic and randomized plant diversity losses influence productivity and invasion resistance across multiple years in a California grassland. Compared with communities based on randomized diversity losses, communities resulting from realistic (drought-driven) species losses had higher invasion resistance under climatic conditions that matched the trait-based filtering they experienced. However, productivity declined more with realistic than with randomized species losses across all years, regardless of climatic conditions. Functional response traits aligned with effect traits for productivity but not for invasion resistance. Our findings illustrate that the effects of biodiversity losses depend notmore »