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See detailBaker’s law and the island syndromes in bryophytes
Patino Llorente, Jairo ULg; Bisang, I; Hedenäs, L et al

in Journal of Ecology (2013)

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See detailContinental-scale variability in browser diversity is a major driver of diversity patterns in acacias across Africa
Greve, M; Lykke, A M; Fagg, C W et al

in Journal of Ecology (2012), 100

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See detailCommunity assembly along a soil depth gradient: contrasting patterns of plant trait convergence and divergence in a Mediterranean rangeland
Bernard-Verdier, Maud; Navas, Marie-Laure; Vellend, Mark et al

in Journal of Ecology (2012), (100), 1422-1433

1. Understanding how environmental factors drive plant community assembly remains a major challenge in community ecology. The strength of different assembly processes along environmental gradients, such ... [more ▼]

1. Understanding how environmental factors drive plant community assembly remains a major challenge in community ecology. The strength of different assembly processes along environmental gradients, such as environmental filtering and functional niche differentiation, can be quantified by analysing trait distributions in communities. While environmental filtering affects species occurrence among communities, functional divergence or convergence is strongly related to species abundances within communities, which few studies have taken into account. We examine the trait-mediated effect of these two processes along a stress-resource gradient. 2. We measured species abundances and the distributions of eight traits related to vegetative and regenerative phases in plant communities along a gradient of soil depth and resource availability in Mediterranean rangelands. We quantified environmental filtering, defined as a local restriction of trait range, and trait divergence, based on abundance-weighted trait variance, using a two-step approach with specifically designed null models. 3. Communities presented a clear functional response to the soil gradient, as evidenced by strong trends in community-weighted trait means. We detected environmental filtering of different traits at both ends of the gradient, suggesting that, contrary to widespread expectations, trait filtering may not necessarily be the result of abiotic filtering under harsh conditions but could likely also result from biotic interactions in productive habitats. 4. We found marked shifts in trait abundance distributions within communities along the gradient. Vegetative traits (e.g. leaf dry matter content) diverged on shallow soils, reflecting the coexistence of distinct water- and nutrient-use strategies in these constrained habitats and converged with increasing soil resource availability. By contrast, regenerative traits (e.g. seed mass) tended to diverge towards deeper soils, while plant reproductive heights diverged all along the gradient. 5. Synthesis: Our study highlights how the combination of abundance data with traits capturing different functional niches is critical to the detection of complex functional responses of plant communities to environmental gradients. We demonstrate that patterns of trait divergence and filtering are strongly contingent on both trait and environment such that there can be no expectation of a simple trend of increasing or decreasing functional divergence along a gradient of resource availability. [less ▲]

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See detailEnvironmental filtering of dense-wooded species controls above-ground biomass stored in African moist forests
Gourlet-Fleury, Sylvie; Rossi, Vivien; Réjou-Méchain, Maxime et al

in Journal of Ecology (2011), 99(4), 981-990

1. Regional above-ground biomass estimates for tropical moist forests remain highly inaccurate mostly because they are based on extrapolations from a few plots scattered across a limited range of soils ... [more ▼]

1. Regional above-ground biomass estimates for tropical moist forests remain highly inaccurate mostly because they are based on extrapolations from a few plots scattered across a limited range of soils and other environmental conditions. When such conditions impact biomass, the estimation is biased. The effect of soil types on biomass has especially yielded controversial results. 2. We investigated the relationship between above-ground biomass and soil type in undisturbed moist forests in the Central African Republic. We tested the effects of soil texture, as a surrogate for soil resources availability and physical constraints (soil depth and hydromorphy) on biomass. Forest inventory data were collected for trees ≥20 cm stem diameter in 2754 0.5 ha plots scattered over 4888 km². The plots contained 224 taxons, of which 209 were identified to species. Soil types were characterized from a 1:1 000 000 scale soil map. Species-specific values for wood density were extracted from the CIRAD’s data base of wood technological properties. 3. We found that basal area and biomass differ in their responses to soil type, ranging from 17.8 m² ha-1 (217.5 t ha-1) to 22.3 m² ha-1 (273.3 t ha-1). While shallow and hydromorphic soils support forests with both low stem basal area and low biomass, forests on deep resource-poor soils are typically low in basal area but as high in biomass as forests on deep resource-rich soils. We demonstrated that the environmental filtering of slow growing dense-wooded species on resource-poor soils compensates for the low basal area, and we discuss whether this filtering effect is due to low fertility or to low water reserve. 4. Synthesis. We showed that soil physical conditions constrained the amount of biomass stored in tropical moist forests. Contrary to previous reports, our results suggest that biomass is similar on resource-poor and resource-rich soils. This finding highlights both the importance of taking into account soil characteristics and species wood density when trying to predict regional patterns of biomass. Our findings have implications for the evaluation of biomass stocks in tropical forests, in the context of the international negotiations on climate change. [less ▲]

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See detailSpatial aggregation of tropical trees at multiple spatial scales
Réjou-Méchain, Maxime; Flores, Olivier; Bourland, Nils ULg et al

in Journal of Ecology (2011), 99

1. In tropical forests, species distribution patterns may be strongly context-dependent owing to local stochasticity of recruitment and⁄ or to the specific history and environment of each site. Recent ... [more ▼]

1. In tropical forests, species distribution patterns may be strongly context-dependent owing to local stochasticity of recruitment and⁄ or to the specific history and environment of each site. Recent studies have reported, however, that the degree of spatial aggregation of tropical tree species is partly determined by some species traits irrespectively of site conditions, at least at a very local scale (<200 m). 2. Here, we used standardized large-scale forest inventories of five Central African tropical forests (9670 0.5-ha plots spread over 5550 km2) to quantify the spatial aggregation of 106 tropical tree species at larger spatial scales. For this purpose, we developed a new statistic to quantify the respective contributions of different spatial scales to the aggregation patterns, and we tested whether patterns were consistent across sites. We finally asked whether species characteristics related to dispersal ability, to response to disturbances and to biogeographical range could significantly explain aggregation patterns. 3. Although aggregation patterns varied substantially among sites within each species, they displayed inter-site consistencies (21–24%of the total variance explained by species identity) at the local scale (0.2–1 km) and at the mesoscale (1–10 km) but not at the landscape scale (>10 km). At the two former scales, upper taxonomical levels (family and⁄or order) significantly explained variation in the degree of species aggregation, while at the landscape scale, aggregation was entirely contingent on the site considered. Few species characteristics, except dispersal syndromes and wood density, were able to significantly explain aggregation patterns. 4. Synthesis. One of our most striking results is the high context dependence of species aggregation patterns, whatever the spatial scale considered. However, we showed that species distribution patterns can be predicted, to an extent, at spatial scales much larger than previously investigated in this context. Such patterns may be explained by traits displaying phylogenetic conservatism [less ▲]

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See detailMeasuring the importance of competition: a new formulation of the problem
Damgaard, Christian; Fayolle, Adeline ULg

in Journal of Ecology (2010), (98), 1-6

1. Currently, there is a debate among plant ecologists on the concepts of the intensity of competition and the importance of competition, which is central to many issues of modern plant population ecology ... [more ▼]

1. Currently, there is a debate among plant ecologists on the concepts of the intensity of competition and the importance of competition, which is central to many issues of modern plant population ecology and plant community ecology. 2. It is problematic that the current measures of intensity and importance of competition, typically, are reported as dimensionless indices because they hide the fact that both indices are functions of plant density and the level of the environmental gradient. 3. Here, a new formulation of the concepts is suggested, which explicitly highlights the functional dependencies on plant density and the level of the environmental gradient. The new measures are a generalization of the previous indices and correspond to the previous indices in the case of a simple experimental design. 4. The suggested measures of the intensity and importance of competition are exemplified using data from a response surface competition experiment between Agrostis capillaris and Festuca ovina along a herbicide gradient, where the expected clear effect of plant density was demonstrated. 5. Synthesis. As the suggested measures of the intensity and importance of competition explicitly highlight the functional dependencies on plant density and the level of the environmental gradient, we think that they will help to ensure a closer connection between experimental plant ecology and the attempts to model plant populations and communities. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Odd Man Out? Might Climate Explain The Lower Tree Alpha-Diversity Of African Rain Forests Relative To Amazonian Rain Forests?
Parmentier, I.; Malhi, Y.; Senterre, B. et al

in Journal of Ecology (2007), 95(5), 1058-1071

1. Comparative analyses of diversity variation among and between regions allow testing of alternative explanatory models and ideas. Here, we explore the relationships between the tree α-diversity of small ... [more ▼]

1. Comparative analyses of diversity variation among and between regions allow testing of alternative explanatory models and ideas. Here, we explore the relationships between the tree α-diversity of small rain forest plots in Africa and in Amazonia and climatic variables, to test the explanatory power of climate and the consistency of relationships between the two continents. 2. Our analysis included 1003 African plots and 512 Amazonian plots. All are located in old-growth primary non-flooded forest under 900 m altitude. Tree α-diversity is estimated using Fisher’s alpha calculated for trees with diameter at breast height ≥ 10 cm. Mean diversity values are lower in Africa by a factor of two. 3. Climate-diversity analyses are based on data aggregated for grid cells of 2.5 × 2.5 km. The highest Fisher’s alpha values are found in Amazonian forests with no climatic analogue in our African data set. When the analysis is restricted to pixels of directly comparable climate, the mean diversity of African forests is still much lower than that in Amazonia. Only in regions of low mean annual rainfall and temperature is mean diversity in African forests comparable with, or superior to, the diversity in Amazonia. 4. The climatic variables best correlated with the tree α-diversity are largely different in the African and Amazonian data, or correlate with African and Amazonian diversity in opposite directions. 5. These differences in the relationship between local/landscape-scale α-diversity and climate variables between the two continents point to the possible significance of an array of factors including: macro-scale climate differences between the two regions, overall size of the respective species pools, past climate variation, other forms of longterm and short-term environmental variation, and edaphics. We speculate that the lower α-diversity of African lowland rain forests reported here may be in part a function of the smaller regional species pool of tree species adapted to warm, wet conditions. 6. Our results point to the importance of controlling for variation in plot size and for gross differences in regional climates when undertaking comparative analyses between regions of how local diversity of forest varies in relation to other putative controlling factors. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 41 (2 ULg)