Data from: Species colonisation, not competitive exclusion, drives community overdispersion over long-term succession
Li, Shao-peng et al. (2017), Data from: Species colonisation, not competitive exclusion, drives community overdispersion over long-term succession, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.fn5g2
Ecological communities often transition from phylogenetic and functional clustering to overdispersion over succession as judged by space-for-time substitution studies. Such a pattern has been generally attributed to the increase in competitive exclusion of closely related species with similar traits through time, although colonisation and extinction have rarely been examined. Using 44 years of uninterrupted old-field succession in New Jersey, USA, we confirmed that phylogenetic and functional clustering decreased as succession unfolded, but the transition was largely driven by colonisation. Early colonists were closely related and functionally similar to residents, while later colonists became less similar to the species present. Extirpated species were generally more distantly related to residents than by chance, or exhibited random phylogenetic/functional patterns, and their relatedness to residents was not associated with time. These results provide direct evidence that the colonisation of distant relatives, rather than extinction of close relatives, drives phylogenetic and functional overdispersion over succession.