Fire drives phylogenetic clustering in Mediterranean Basin woody plant communities
Article first published online: 14 SEP 2007
Journal of Ecology
Volume 95, Issue 6, pages 1316–1323, November 2007
How to Cite
VERDÚ, M. and PAUSAS, J. G. (2007), Fire drives phylogenetic clustering in Mediterranean Basin woody plant communities. Journal of Ecology, 95: 1316–1323. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2007.01300.x
- Issue published online: 14 SEP 2007
- Article first published online: 14 SEP 2007
- Received 14 March 2007; accepted 26 July 2007; Handling Editor: Peter Bellingham
- evolutionary filtering;
- fire regime;
- phylogenetic structure;
- plant traits;
- post-fire recruitment;
- 1Many Mediterranean plant species persist after fire because their seeds are protected from the heat of the fire (e.g. hard-coated seeds, serotinous cones), thus permitting rapid post-fire recruitment. For simplicity, this trait will hereafter be called P and its two possible phenotypes P+ (seeder) and P– (non-seeder).
- 2Because P+ appears in a narrow taxonomic spectrum and confers persistence under high fire frequencies, we test the extent to which communities with different fire histories have different phenotypic and phylogenetic structures. Specifically, we compare coastal vegetation growing in a warm and dry Mediterranean climate subject to high fire frequency (HiFi vegetation) with montane vegetation subject to a subhumid climate where fires are rare (LowFi) under the hypothesis that P+ species will be over-represented in HiFi communities, thus producing phenotypic and phylogenetic clustering.
- 3Trait conservatism on P is evaluated by testing the presence of a phylogenetic signal, phenotypic clustering is tested by correlating co-occurrence and phenotypic distance matrices, and the phylogenetic structure is evaluated by testing whether the phylogenetic distances between species in each community are different from those expected by chance.
- 4The results suggest that: (a) P is a strongly conserved trait; (b) co-occurring species have similar P phenotypes (phenotypic clustering); and (c) the phylogenetic structure in HiFi vegetation is significantly clustered while LowFi vegetation tends to be overdispersed.
- 5Synthesis: Fire is a strong driving force in assembling HiFi communities while other forces, such as competitive interactions, are the main assembly mechanisms in LowFi communities. This result supports the role of recurrent disturbances as filters driving phylogenetic community structure.