Multispecies coexistence of trees in tropical forests: spatial signals of topographic niche differentiation increase with environmental heterogeneity

Brown, C. et al. (2013) Multispecies coexistence of trees in tropical forests: spatial signals of topographic niche differentiation increase with environmental heterogeneity. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, 280(1764), 20130502. (doi:10.1098/rspb.2013.0502) (PMID:23782876) (PMCID:PMC3712412)

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Abstract

Neutral and niche theories give contrasting explanations for the maintenance of tropical tree species diversity. Both have some empirical support, but methods to disentangle their effects have not yet been developed. We applied a statistical measure of spatial structure to data from 14 large tropical forest plots to test a prediction of niche theory that is incompatible with neutral theory: that species in heterogeneous environments should separate out in space according to their niche preferences. We chose plots across a range of topographic heterogeneity, and tested whether pairwise spatial associations among species were more variable in more heterogeneous sites. We found strong support for this prediction, based on a strong positive relationship between variance in the spatial structure of species pairs and topographic heterogeneity across sites. We interpret this pattern as evidence of pervasive niche differentiation, which increases in importance with increasing environmental heterogeneity.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Illian, Professor Janine
Authors: Brown, C., Burslem, D. F. R. P., Illian, J. B., Bao, L., Brockelman, W., Cao, M., Chang, L. W., Dattaraja, H. S., Davies, S., Gunatilleke, C. V. S., Gunatilleke, I. A. U. N., Huang, J., Kassim, A. R., LaFrankie, J. V., Lian, J., Lin, L., Ma, K., Mi, X., Nathalang, A., Noor, S., Ong, P., Sukumar, R., Su, S. H., Sun, I. F., Suresh, H. S., Tan, S., Thompson, J., Uriarte, M., Valencia, R., Yap, S. L., Ye, W., and Law, R.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Mathematics and Statistics > Statistics
Journal Name:Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences
Publisher:The Royal Society
ISSN:0962-8452
ISSN (Online):1471-2954

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