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  1. Abstract

    One mechanism proposed to explain high species diversity in tropical systems is strong negative conspecific density dependence (CDD), which reduces recruitment of juveniles in proximity to conspecific adult plants. Although evidence shows that plant-specific soil pathogens can drive negative CDD, trees also form key mutualisms with mycorrhizal fungi, which may counteract these effects. Across 43 large-scale forest plots worldwide, we tested whether ectomycorrhizal tree species exhibit weaker negative CDD than arbuscular mycorrhizal tree species. We further tested for conmycorrhizal density dependence (CMDD) to test for benefit from shared mutualists. We found that the strength of CDD varies systematically with mycorrhizal type, with ectomycorrhizal tree species exhibiting higher sapling densities with increasing adult densities than arbuscular mycorrhizal tree species. Moreover, we found evidence of positive CMDD for tree species of both mycorrhizal types. Collectively, these findings indicate that mycorrhizal interactions likely play a foundational role in global forest diversity patterns and structure.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. null (Ed.)
  3. Abstract

    Tropical forests are notable for their high species diversity, even on small spatial scales, and right‐skewed species and size abundance distributions. The role of individual species as drivers of the spatial organization of diversity in these forests has been explained by several hypotheses and processes, for example, stochastic dilution, negative density dependence, or gap dynamics. These processes leave a signature in spatial distribution of small trees, particularly in the vicinity of large trees, likely having stronger effects on their neighbors. We are exploring species diversity patterns within the framework of various diversity‐generating hypotheses using individual species–area relationships. We used the data from three tropical forest plots (Wanang—Papua New Guinea, Barro Colorado Island—Panama, and Sinharaja—Sri Lanka) and included also the saplings (DBH ≥ 1 cm). Resulting cross‐size patterns of species richness and evenness reflect the dynamics of saplings affected by the distribution of large trees. When all individuals with DBH ≥1 cm are included, ~50% of all tree species from the 25‐ or 50‐ha plot can be found within 35 m radius of an individual tree. For all trees, 72%–78% of species were identified as species richness accumulators, having more species present in their surroundings than expected by null models. This pattern was driven by small trees as the analysis of DBH >10 cm trees showed much lower proportion of accumulators, 14%–65% of species identified as richness repellers and had low richness of surrounding small trees. Only 11%–26% of species had lower species evenness than was expected by null models. High proportions of species richness accumulators were probably due to gap dynamics and support Janzen–Connell hypothesis driven by competition or top‐down control by pathogens and herbivores. Observed species diversity patterns show the importance of including small tree size classes in analyses of the spatial organization of diversity.

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  4. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) and ectomycorrhizal (EcM) associations are critical for host-tree performance. However, how mycorrhizal associations correlate with the latitudinal tree beta-diversity remains untested. Using a global dataset of 45 forest plots representing 2,804,270 trees across 3840 species, we test how AM and EcM trees contribute to total beta-diversity and its components (turnover and nestedness) of all trees. We find AM rather than EcM trees predominantly contribute to decreasing total beta-diversity and turnover and increasing nestedness with increasing latitude, probably because wide distributions of EcM trees do not generate strong compositional differences among localities. Environmental variables, especially temperature and precipitation, are strongly correlated with beta-diversity patterns for both AM trees and all trees rather than EcM trees. Results support our hypotheses that latitudinal beta-diversity patterns and environmental effects on these patterns are highly dependent on mycorrhizal types. Our findings highlight the importance of AM-dominated forests for conserving global forest biodiversity. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
  6. Abstract Questions

    How do spatial patterns of tree distribution and species co‐occurrence differ between primary and secondary tropical rain forests? What signatures of ecological processes might be discerned by comparing the spatial patterns of trees between primary and secondary forest plots?


    Tropical rain forest vegetation, lowlands of Papua New Guinea.


    All trees over 5 cm DBH were surveyed in two non‐replicated 1‐ha plots situated in primary and secondary forest. Grid location, DBH, height and species identity were recorded for all surveyed trees. Analysis of the spatial pattern and the autocorrelation of tree sizes and identities were used to assess the structure of the forest found within the plots. Functions combining Ripley's K and the individual species–area relationship were applied to study the spatial distribution of trees and species diversity.


    The spatial distribution of common species, and all stems collectively, was aggregated in the secondary forest plot but not different from random in the primary forest plot. Diameter and height were also strongly spatially auto‐correlated in the secondary forest plot but not in the primary forest plot. Conspecific aggregations were more common in the secondary forest plot. Finally, the secondary forest plot was characterized by the presence of diversity‐repelling species and lower diversity than the primary forest plot, where diversity‐accumulating species were present.


    We attribute the weaker autocorrelation of tree size in the primary forest to the development of size hierarchies throughout the course of stand aging. The conspecific aggregation and low local diversity within the secondary forest plot are likely caused by dispersal limitation during a brief period of establishment after disturbance. The higher local diversity of the primary forest can be explained by the reduction of species aggregation through increased mortality of conspecifics. This is caused by strong intraspecific competition, supporting the spatial segregation hypothesis (interspecific spatial segregation).

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  7. Abstract

    Escalation (macroevolutionary increase) or divergence (disparity between relatives) in trait values are two frequent outcomes of the plant‐herbivore arms race. We studied the defences and caterpillars associated with 21 sympatric New Guinean figs. Herbivore generalists were concentrated on hosts with low protease and oxidative activity. The distribution of specialists correlated with phylogeny, protease and trichomes. Additionally, highly specialisedAsotamoths used alkaloid rich plants. The evolution of proteases was conserved, alkaloid diversity has escalated across the studied species, oxidative activity has escalated within one clade, and trichomes have diverged across the phylogeny. Herbivore specificity correlated with their response to host defences: escalating traits largely affected generalists and divergent traits specialists; but the effect of escalating traits on extreme specialists was positive. In turn, the evolution of defences inFicuscan be driven towards both escalation and divergence in individual traits, in combination providing protection against a broad spectrum of herbivores.

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