Aridity preferences alter the relative importance of abiotic and biotic drivers on plant species abundance in global drylands

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Title: Aridity preferences alter the relative importance of abiotic and biotic drivers on plant species abundance in global drylands
Authors: Berdugo, Miguel | Maestre, Fernando T. | Kéfi, Sonia | Gross, Nicolas | Le Bagousse-Pinguet, Yoann | Soliveres, Santiago
Research Group/s: Gestión de Ecosistemas y de la Biodiversidad (GEB)
Center, Department or Service: Universidad de Alicante. Departamento de Ecología
Keywords: Plant community diversity and structure | Community assembly drivers | Facilitation | Specialisation | Niches | Competition | Drylands
Knowledge Area: Ecología
Issue Date: 19-May-2018
Publisher: Wiley
Citation: Journal of Ecology. 2019, 107(1): 190-202. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.13006
Abstract: 1. Disentangling the interplay between species‐specific environmental preferences and micro‐ and macroscale determinants of species abundance within plant communities remains challenging. Most existing studies addressing this issue either lack empirical data regarding species interactions and local abundances or cover a narrow range of environmental conditions. 2. We merged species distribution models and local spatial patterns to investigate the relative importance of key macro‐ (aridity) and micro(facilitation and competition)scale determinants of plant species abundance along aridity gradients in drylands world‐wide. We used information derived from the environmental niches of species to evaluate how species‐specific aridity preferences modulate the importance of such factors to drive species relative abundance. 3. Facilitation and aridity preferences were more important than competition to explain species local abundances in global drylands. The specialization of communities (i.e. their compositional shifts from species with a large range of aridity preferences towards only aridity specialists) also modulated the effect of aridity and plant–plant interactions on species abundances. The importance of facilitation to drive species abundances decreased with aridity, as species preferred arid conditions and did not need neighbours to thrive. Instead, competition showed stronger relationships with species abundances under high levels of aridity. As composition became dominated by aridity specialists, the importance of aridity in shaping dryland plant communities did not increase further from moderate to high aridity levels. 4. Synthesis. Our results showed that: (a) the degree of community specialization to aridity mediates the relative importance of plant–plant interactions in determining species abundances and (b) facilitation and competition were more strongly related to species abundance in communities dominated by generalists and specialists, respectively. We observed a shift from facilitation to competition as drivers of species abundances as aridity increases in global drylands. Our findings also pave the way to develop more robust predictions about the consequences of ongoing climate change on the assemblage of plant communities in drylands, the largest terrestrial biome.
Sponsor: This work was funded by the European Research Council under the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC Grant agreement 242658 (BIOCOM). MB was supported by a FPU fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (Ref. AP2010-0759). FTM acknowledges support from a Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and from the European Research Council (ERC Grant agreement 647038 [BIODESERT]). The research of SK has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no. 283068 (CASCADE). Y.L.B.P was supported by a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship (MSCA-IF) within the European Program Horizon 2020 (DRYFUN Project 656035). SS was supported by the Spanish Government under a Ramón y Cajal contract (RYC-2016- 20604). N.G. was supported by the AgreenSkills+ fellowship programme which has received funding from the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement N° FP7-609398 (AgreenSkills+ contract).
ISSN: 0022-0477 (Print) | 1365-2745 (Online)
DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.13006
Language: eng
Type: info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Rights: © 2018 The Authors. Journal of Ecology © 2018 British Ecological Society
Peer Review: si
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Appears in Collections:Research funded by the EU
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