Competition, facilitation and environmental severity shape the relationship between local and regional species richness in plant communities
Lortie, Christopher J.
- Journal Article
Understanding the relative contribution of local and regional processes to local species richness is an important ecological question and a subject of controversy between macroecologists and community ecologists. We test the hypothesis that the contribution of local and regional processes is dependent on environmental conditions and that the effect of regional processes should be the highest in communities from intermediate positions along environmental severity gradients due to the importance of facilitation. We used the recently developed log-ratio method to analyze the relationship between local species richness (LSR) and regional species richness (RSR) for 13 plant communities from 4 habitat types of France (coastal sand dunes, oceanic heathlands, alpine grasslands, lowland calcareous grasslands). Each habitat type was split in 3-4 communities using multivariate analyses to identify the relative importance of stress, disturbance, competition, and facilitation functioning within the 13 communities. We found that the LSR/RSR relationship was highly dependent on environmental conditions with saturated communities occurring more frequently than unsaturated communities highlighting the relative importance of local drivers on species richness. We argued that competition was most likely the main source of community saturation whilst facilitation likely contributed to enhancing the importance of the regional species pool for all habitat types. However, the effect of facilitation might be stronger in the disturbed than in the stressed systems because unsaturated curves were only observed in the former conditions. In extreme conditions of disturbance LSR was only controlled by the intensity of disturbance. This effect was not observed in extreme stress conditions. Our study provides support for the emerging balance theory that both local and regional processes are important in nature with their relative contribution depending on environmental conditions. Additionally, this synthesis strongly suggests that facilitation contributes to an important process - the influence of regional species pool on local species richness. © 2014 The Authors Show more
Journal / seriesEcography
Pages / Article No.
Subjectcompetition (ecology); disturbance; habitat type; local adaptation; plant community; species richness; France
Organisational unit02350 - Departement Umweltsystemwissenschaften / Department of Environmental Systems Science
02703 - Institut für Agrarwissenschaften / Institute of Agricultural Sciences (IAS)
09618 - Schöb, Christian (SNF-Professur)
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