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Nat Ecol Evol ; 4(1): 40-45, 2020 01.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31844189


According to the competitive exclusion principle, species with low competitive abilities should be excluded by more efficient competitors; yet, they generally remain as rare species. Here, we describe the positive and negative spatial association networks of 326 disparate assemblages, showing a general organization pattern that simultaneously supports the primacy of competition and the persistence of rare species. Abundant species monopolize negative associations in about 90% of the assemblages. On the other hand, rare species are mostly involved in positive associations, forming small network modules. Simulations suggest that positive interactions among rare species and microhabitat preferences are the most probable mechanisms underpinning this pattern and rare species persistence. The consistent results across taxa and geography suggest a general explanation for the maintenance of biodiversity in competitive environments.

Biodiversidade , Ecologia , Geografia
J Biogeogr ; 41(12): 2307-2319, 2014 Dec 01.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-25914437


AIM: Geographic, climatic, and soil factors are major drivers of plant beta diversity, but their importance for dryland plant communities is poorly known. This study aims to: i) characterize patterns of beta diversity in global drylands, ii) detect common environmental drivers of beta diversity, and iii) test for thresholds in environmental conditions driving potential shifts in plant species composition. LOCATION: 224 sites in diverse dryland plant communities from 22 geographical regions in six continents. METHODS: Beta diversity was quantified with four complementary measures: the percentage of singletons (species occurring at only one site), Whittake's beta diversity (ß(W)), a directional beta diversity metric based on the correlation in species occurrences among spatially contiguous sites (ß(R2)), and a multivariate abundance-based metric (ß(MV)). We used linear modelling to quantify the relationships between these metrics of beta diversity and geographic, climatic, and soil variables. RESULTS: Soil fertility and variability in temperature and rainfall, and to a lesser extent latitude, were the most important environmental predictors of beta diversity. Metrics related to species identity (percentage of singletons and ß(W)) were most sensitive to soil fertility, whereas those metrics related to environmental gradients and abundance ((ß(R2)) and ß(MV)) were more associated with climate variability. Interactions among soil variables, climatic factors, and plant cover were not important determinants of beta diversity. Sites receiving less than 178 mm of annual rainfall differed sharply in species composition from more mesic sites (> 200 mm). MAIN CONCLUSIONS: Soil fertility and variability in temperature and rainfall are the most important environmental predictors of variation in plant beta diversity in global drylands. Our results suggest that those sites annually receiving ~ 178 mm of rainfall will be especially sensitive to future climate changes. These findings may help to define appropriate conservation strategies for mitigating effects of climate change on dryland vegetation.

Perspect Plant Ecol Syst ; 16(4): 164-173, 2014 Aug 20.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-25914604


Plant-plant interactions are driven by environmental conditions, evolutionary relationships (ER) and the functional traits of the plants involved. However, studies addressing the relative importance of these drivers are rare, but crucial to improve our predictions of the effects of plant-plant interactions on plant communities and of how they respond to differing environmental conditions. To analyze the relative importance of -and interrelationships among- these factors as drivers of plant-plant interactions, we analyzed perennial plant co-occurrence at 106 dryland plant communities established across rainfall gradients in nine countries. We used structural equation modeling to disentangle the relationships between environmental conditions (aridity and soil fertility), functional traits extracted from the literature, and ER, and to assess their relative importance as drivers of the 929 pairwise plant-plant co-occurrence levels measured. Functional traits, specifically facilitated plants' height and nurse growth form, were of primary importance, and modulated the effect of the environment and ER on plant-plant interactions. Environmental conditions and ER were important mainly for those interactions involving woody and graminoid nurses, respectively. The relative importance of different plant-plant interaction drivers (ER, functional traits, and the environment) varied depending on the region considered, illustrating the difficulty of predicting the outcome of plant-plant interactions at broader spatial scales. In our global-scale study on drylands, plant-plant interactions were more strongly related to functional traits of the species involved than to the environmental variables considered. Thus, moving to a trait-based facilitation/competition approach help to predict that: 1) positive plant-plant interactions are more likely to occur for taller facilitated species in drylands, and 2) plant-plant interactions within woody-dominated ecosystems might be more sensitive to changing environmental conditions than those within grasslands. By providing insights on which species are likely to better perform beneath a given neighbour, our results will also help to succeed in restoration practices involving the use of nurse plants.