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Species-specific traits plus stabilizing processes best explain coexistence in biodiverse fire-prone plant communities

Groeneveld, J., Enright, N.J., Lamont, B.B., Reineking, B., Frank, K. and Perry, G. (2013) Species-specific traits plus stabilizing processes best explain coexistence in biodiverse fire-prone plant communities. PLoS ONE, 8 (5). e65084.

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Abstract

Coexistence in fire-prone Mediterranean-type shrublands has been explored in the past using both neutral and niche-based models. However, distinct differences between plant functional types (PFTs), such as fire-killed vs resprouting responses to fire, and the relative similarity of species within a PFT, suggest that coexistence models might benefit from combining both neutral and niche-based (stabilizing) approaches. We developed a multispecies metacommunity model where species are grouped into two PFTs (fire-killed vs resprouting) to investigate the roles of neutral and stabilizing processes on species richness and rank-abundance distributions. Our results show that species richness can be maintained in two ways: i) strictly neutral species within each PFT, or ii) species within PFTs differing in key demographic properties, provided that additional stabilizing processes, such as negative density regulation, also operate. However, only simulations including stabilizing processes resulted in structurally realistic rank-abundance distributions over plausible time scales. This result underscores the importance of including both key species traits and stabilizing (niche) processes in explaining species coexistence and community structure.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Copyright: © 2013 Groeneveld et al.
Notes: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/15741
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