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How do habitat filtering and niche conservatism affect community composition at different taxonomic resolutions?

Abstract : Understanding how local species assembly depends on the regional biogeographic and environmental context is a challenging task in community ecology. In spatially implicit neutral models, a single immigration parameter, I(k), represents the flux of immigrants from a regional pool that compete with local offspring for establishment in communities. This flux counterbalances the effect of local stochastic extinctions to maintain local species diversity. If some species within the regional pool are not adapted to the local environment (habitat filtering), the migrant flux is reduced beyond that of the neutral model, such that habitat filtering influences the value of I(k) in non-neutral situations. Here, we propose a novel model in which immigrants from the regional pool are filtered according to their habitat preferences and the local environment, while taxa potentially retain habitat preferences from their ancestors (niche conservatism). Using both analytical reasoning and simulations, we demonstrate that I(k) is expected to be constant when estimated based on the community composition at several taxonomic levels, not only under neutral assumptions, but also when habitat filtering occurs, unless there is substantial niche conservatism. In the latter case, I(k) is expected to decrease when estimated based on the composition at species to genus and family levels, thus allowing a signature of niche conservatism to be detected by simply comparing I(k) estimates across taxonomic levels. We applied this approach to three rain forest data sets from South India and Central America and found no significant signature of niche conservatism when I(k) was compared across taxonomic levels, except at the family level in South India. We further observed more limited immigration in South Indian forests, supporting the hypothesis of a greater impact of habitat filtering and heterogeneity there than in Central America. Our results highlight the relevance of studying variations of I(k) in space and across taxonomic levels to test hypotheses about the ecological and evolutionary drivers of biodiversity patterns.
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Contributor : Saravanan Govindaraj <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, August 25, 2020 - 7:27:22 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, July 6, 2021 - 3:43:26 AM



Francois Munoz, B. Ramesh, Pierre Couteron. How do habitat filtering and niche conservatism affect community composition at different taxonomic resolutions?. Ecology, Ecological Society of America, 2014, 95 (8), pp.2179-2191. ⟨10.1890/13-0064.1⟩. ⟨hal-02922146⟩



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