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Data from : Vacant yet invasible niches in forest community assembly

Cite this dataset

Gauzere, Pierre et al. (2020). Data from : Vacant yet invasible niches in forest community assembly [Dataset]. Dryad.


  1. It is controversial whether communities are saturated with species, or have vacant niches. The prevalence of vacant niches and the processes likely to promote their existence are poorly known. 

  2. We used a process‐based forest gap‐model to simulate plant community dynamics in 11 sites along a climatic gradient across central Europe. We then used hypervolume analyses to study the existence of vacant niches (seen as empty volumes in the trait space of local species pools and communities), and we tested for the effect of abiotic (environmental filtering) and biotic (competition) processes on the functional hypervolumes along the climatic gradient. Last, we performed invasion simulations to assess the invasibility of detected vacant niches. 

  3. Our results suggest that empty volumes in trait space are common, can arise from both abiotic and biotic processes, and are more likely in cold climates. We also showed that most vacant niches are invasible. 

      4. Synthesis: Our work supports the view that niche space is unsaturated, and that many viable ecological strategies are absent from these forest communities.


Datas were not collected but come from simulations of the FORCEEPS model. See article for more details about the model, and the following references:

Bugmann H (1994) On the Ecology of mountainous forests in a changing climate: A simulation study. PhD Thesis. Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, Zürich.

Bugmann H (1996) A simplified forest model to study species composition along climate gradients. Ecology, 77, 2055-2074.

Bugmann H (2001) A review of forest gap models. Climatic Change, 51, 259-305.Didion M, 

Kupferschmid AD, Zingg A, Fahse L, Bugmann H (2009) Gaining local accuracy while not losing generality — extending the range of gap model applications. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 39, 1092-1107.


The R code to replicate the analyses and the figures is provided with the summarized datasets. Note that raw simulation outputs were too big (>20Go) to be archived.  

Usage notes

Follow the code, contact me at if you need any assitance. I will be happy to help. 


Ministère de l'Agriculture et de la Souveraineté alimentaire, Award: ECOFOR‐2014‐23

Agence Nationale de la Recherche, Award: ANR‐15‐CE02‐0004

European Research Council, Award: ERC‐StG‐2014‐639706‐CONSTRAINTS