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Creators/Authors contains: "Mayfield, Margaret M."

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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2024
  2. Enquist, Brian (Ed.)
  3. Adler, Frederick (Ed.)
  4. Summary

    Large intraspecific functional trait variation strongly impacts many aspects of communities and ecosystems, and is the medium upon which evolution works. Yet intraspecific trait variation is inconsistent and hard to predict across traits, species and locations.

    We measured within‐species variation in leaf mass per area (LMA), leaf dry matter content (LDMC), branch wood density (WD), and allocation to stem area vs leaf area in branches (branch Huber value (HV)) across the aridity range of seven Australian eucalypts and a co‐occurringAcaciaspecies to explore how traits and their variances change with aridity.

    Within species, we found consistent increases in LMA, LDMC and WD and HV with increasing aridity, resulting in consistent trait coordination across leaves and branches. However, this coordination only emerged across sites with large climate differences. Unlike trait means, patterns of trait variance with aridity were mixed across populations and species. Only LDMC showed constrained trait variation in more xeric species and drier populations that could indicate limits to plasticity or heritable trait variation.

    Our results highlight that climate can drive consistent within‐species trait patterns, but that patterns might often be obscured by the complex nature of morphological traits, sampling incomplete species ranges or sampling confounded stress gradients.

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  5. Abstract

    Stochasticity is a core component of ecology, as it underlies key processes that structure and create variability in nature. Despite its fundamental importance in ecological systems, the concept is often treated as synonymous with unpredictability in community ecology, and studies tend to focus on single forms of stochasticity rather than taking a more holistic view. This has led to multiple narratives for how stochasticity mediates community dynamics. Here, we present a framework that describes how different forms of stochasticity (notably demographic and environmental stochasticity) combine to provide underlying and predictable structure in diverse communities. This framework builds on the deep ecological understanding of stochastic processes acting at individual and population levels and in modules of a few interacting species. We support our framework with a mathematical model that we use to synthesize key literature, demonstrating that stochasticity is more than simple uncertainty. Rather, stochasticity has profound and predictable effects on community dynamics that are critical for understanding how diversity is maintained. We propose next steps that ecologists might use to explore the role of stochasticity for structuring communities in theoretical and empirical systems, and thereby enhance our understanding of community dynamics.

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