Spatial phylogenetic and phenotypic patterns reveal ontogenetic shifts in ecological processes of plant community assembly
Perea, Antonio J. et al. (2022), Spatial phylogenetic and phenotypic patterns reveal ontogenetic shifts in ecological processes of plant community assembly, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.t76hdr83w
The analysis of spatial phylogenetic and phenotypic structure of plant communities provides insight into the underlying processes and interactions governing their assembly, and how these may change during plant ontogeny. We used point pattern analysis to find out if saplings and adult plants are surrounded by phylogenetically and phenotypically more similar or dissimilar neighbours than expected by chance, and whether these associations change from the sapling to the adult stage. To this end, we combined information on the phylogenetic structure and eight phenotypic traits of 15 woody plant species in two Mediterranean mixed forests of southeastern Spain. At the community level, we found that the sapling bank at both sites did not show phylogenetic or phenotypic spatial patterns, but adults showed phylogenetic clustering (i.e., heterospecific neighbours were more similar than expected). At the species level, we found frequently repulsive patterns in the sapling bank of less abundant species (i.e., heterospecific sapling or adult neighbours were more dissimilar than expected) in both, phylogenetic and phenotypic analyses. For the adult stage, we found phylogenetic attraction (i.e., more similar neighbours) in just one species and phenotypic clustering in four species. The processes driving the assembly of the communities of saplings and adults leave detectable signals in the spatial phylogenetic and phenotypic structure of our two forest communities. Our findings reinforce the existence of ontogenetic shifts in the mechanisms involved in plant community assembly. Facilitation between phylogenetically distant and phenotypically divergent species favours the recruitment of less abundant species. However, processes acting later in the ontogeny ameliorate the competition between close relatives and determine the spatial structure of adult plants. Nevertheless, the role of phenotype in shaping adult-adult interactions was context- and trait-dependent. The use of spatial point pattern analysis allowed a nuanced interpretation of the phylogenetic and phenotypic structures of the plant community.
Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (MEC), Award: CGL2012-36776
Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades, Award: BES-2016-463 077688
Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (MEC), Award: CGL2015-69118-C2-1-P