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Multispecies coexistence of trees in tropical forests: spatial signals of topographic niche differentiation increase with environmental heterogeneity

Brown, C and Burslem, DFRP and Illian, JB and Bao, L and Brockelman, W and Cao, M and Chang, LW and Dattaraja, HS and Davies, S and Gunatilleke, CVS and Gunatilleke, IAUN and Huang, J and Kassim, AR and LaFrankie, JV and Lian, J and Lin, L and Ma, K and Mi, X and Nathalang, A and Noor, S and Ong, P and Sukumar, R and Su, SH and Sun, IF and Suresh, HS and Tan, S and Thompson, J and Uriarte, M and Valencia, R and Yap, SL and Ye, W and Law, R (2013) Multispecies coexistence of trees in tropical forests: spatial signals of topographic niche differentiation increase with environmental heterogeneity. In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 280 (1764). 20130502_1-20130502_.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2013.0502

Abstract

Neutral and niche theories give contrasting explanations for the maintenance of tropical tree species diversity. Both have some empirical support, but methods to disentangle their effects have not yet been developed. We applied a statistical measure of spatial structure to data from 14 large tropical forest plots to test a prediction of niche theory that is incompatible with neutral theory: that species in heterogeneous environments should separate out in space according to their niche preferences. We chose plots across a range of topographic heterogeneity, and tested whether pairwise spatial associations among species were more variable in more heterogeneous sites. We found strong support for this prediction, based on a strong positive relationship between variance in the spatial structure of species pairs and topographic heterogeneity across sites. We interpret this pattern as evidence of pervasive niche differentiation, which increases in importance with increasing environmental heterogeneity.

Item Type: Journal Article
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Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Royal Society.
Keywords: Species Coexistence; Tropical Forest; Niche Differentiation; Neutral Theory; Spatial Pattern; Cross-Pair Overlap Distribution
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2013 06:19
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2013 06:19
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ernet.in/id/eprint/46946

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