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  1. Abstract

    Numerous studies have shown reduced performance in plants that are surrounded by neighbours of the same species1,2, a phenomenon known as conspecific negative density dependence (CNDD)3. A long-held ecological hypothesis posits that CNDD is more pronounced in tropical than in temperate forests4,5, which increases community stabilization, species coexistence and the diversity of local tree species6,7. Previous analyses supporting such a latitudinal gradient in CNDD8,9have suffered from methodological limitations related to the use of static data10–12. Here we present a comprehensive assessment of latitudinal CNDD patterns using dynamic mortality data to estimate species-site-specific CNDD across 23 sites. Averaged across species, we found that stabilizing CNDD was present at all except one site, but that average stabilizing CNDD was not stronger toward the tropics. However, in tropical tree communities, rare and intermediate abundant species experienced stronger stabilizing CNDD than did common species. This pattern was absent in temperate forests, which suggests that CNDD influences species abundances more strongly in tropical forests than it does in temperate ones13. We also found that interspecific variation in CNDD, which might attenuate its stabilizing effect on species diversity14,15, was high but not significantly different across latitudes. Although the consequences of these patterns for latitudinal diversity gradients are difficult to evaluate, we speculate that a more effective regulation of population abundances could translate into greater stabilization of tropical tree communities and thus contribute to the high local diversity of tropical forests.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 21, 2025

    Lianas, climbing woody plants, influence the structure and function of tropical forests. Climbing traits have evolved multiple times, including ancestral groups such as gymnosperms and pteridophytes, but the genetic basis of the liana strategy is largely unknown. Here, we use a comparative transcriptomic approach for 47 tropical plant species, including ten lianas of diverse taxonomic origins, to identify genes that are consistently expressed or downregulated only in lianas. Our comparative analysis of full-length transcripts enabled the identification of a core interactomic network common to lianas. Sets of transcripts identified from our analysis reveal features related to functional traits pertinent to leaf economics spectrum in lianas, include upregulation of genes controlling epidermal cuticular properties, cell wall remodeling, carbon concentrating mechanism, cell cycle progression, DNA repair and a large suit of downregulated transcription factors and enzymes involved in ABA-mediated stress response as well as lignin and suberin synthesis. All together, these genes are known to be significant in shaping plant morphologies through responses such as gravitropism, phyllotaxy and shade avoidance.

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  3. null (Ed.)
  4. Abstract

    Community phylogenetic analysis is an effective approach to understanding the process of community formation. The phylogenetic tree of the species pool is reconstructed in the first step, and the phylogenetic tree obtained in the second step is used to analyze phylogenetic diversity. Sythetic trees have often been used in the construction of phylogenentic trees; however, in tropical rainforests with many closely related species, synthetic trees contain many unresolved nodes, which may affect the results of phylogenetic structure analysis. Here, we constructed a phylogenetic tree using DNA barcode sequences (rbcL,matK,trnH‐psbA) for 737 tree species from the rainforests of Borneo, which have a high‐species diversity and many closely related species. The phylogenetic tree had fewer polytomies and more branch length variations than the Phylocom synthetic trees. Comparison of community phylogenetic analyses indicated that values of the standardized effect size of mean pairwise distance (SES–MPD) were highly correlated between Phylocom and DNA barcode trees, but less so for the standardized effect size of mean nearest taxon distance (SES–MNTD), suggesting that caution is needed when using synthetic trees for communities containing many congeneric species, especially when using SES–MNTD. Simulation analysis suggested that spatial dependence on phylogenetic diversity is related to the phylogenetic signal of the species' habitat niche and the spatial structure of habitat, indicating the importance of detailed phylogeny in understanding community assembly processes.

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  5. null (Ed.)
  6. Abstract

    While work in temperate forests suggests that there are consistent differences in plant–soil feedback (PSF) between plants with arbuscular and ectomycorrhizal associations, it is unclear whether these differences exist in tropical rainforests. We tested the effects of mycorrhizal type, phylogenetic relationships to overstory species, and soil fertility on the growth of tree seedlings in a tropical Bornean rainforest with a high diversity of both ectomycorrhizal and arbuscular mycorrhizal trees. We found that ectomycorrhizal tree seedlings had higher growth in soils conditioned by close relatives and that this was associated with higher mycorrhizal colonization. By contrast, arbuscular mycorrhizal tree seedlings generally grew more poorly in soils conditioned by close relatives. For ectomycorrhizal species, the phylogenetic trend was insensitive to soil fertility. For arbuscular mycorrhizal seedlings, however, the effect of growing in soils conditioned by close relatives became increasingly negative as soil fertility increased. Our results demonstrate consistent effects of mycorrhizal type on plant–soil feedbacks across forest biomes. The positive effects of ectomycorrhizal symbiosis may help explain biogeographic variation across tropical forests, such as familial dominance of the Dipterocarpaceae in southeast Asia. However, positive feedbacks also raise questions about the role of PSFs in maintaining tropical diversity.

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