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Environmental filtering and spatial processes shape the beta diversity of liana communities in a valley savanna in Southwest China

Cite this dataset

Zhang, Yunbing (2020). Environmental filtering and spatial processes shape the beta diversity of liana communities in a valley savanna in Southwest China [Dataset]. Dryad.


Questions: Lianas contribute substantially to diversity and function of ecosystems. What is the relative importance of environmental filtering and spatial processes on structuring liana beta diversity at taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic levels? Is there any synergy between these drivers (environmental factors and spatial distance) on shaping three dimensions of beta diversity in a savanna liana community?

Location: A dry-hot valley savanna in Yunnan Province, southwest China.

Methods: We established 30 20×20 m plots in the savanna to collect data on the distribution of 22 liana species, 19 functional traits, and plot-level soil nutrients, elevation, and slope. The relative contributions of these environmental factors and spatial distance to liana taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic dissimilarity were analyzed using multiple regression on distance matrices. We also tested which environmental factors influence the beta diversity of liana community using permutational multivariate analysis of variance.

Results: Both environmental and spatial distances were significantly correlated with taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic dissimilarity. Spatial distance explained more variation in taxonomic beta diversity than environmental factors. But for both nearest neighbor functional and phylogenetic distance Dnn', environment explained a relatively higher variation than space did. Moreover, the proportion explained by environmental variables was ranked in decreasing order as follows: functional Dnn', phylogenetic Dnn', and taxonomic beta diversity. We found soil pH had the highest contribution to taxonomic and functional beta diversity, while soil total nitrogen contributed most to phylogenetic beta diversity.

Conclusions: This study revealed that liana taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic beta diversity in the study hot-dry savanna ecosystem are affected and maintained by both environmental filtering and spatial processes. Moreover, the functional and phylogenetic diversities were more strongly subject to environmental filtering. Our study provides the information on mechanisms underlying liana diversity maintenance in savanna, which are necessary to inform conservation management in this vulnerable ecosystem.