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Phenotypic variation in nurse traits and community feedbacks define an alpine community

Authors

  • Richard Michalet,

    Corresponding author
    1. University Bordeaux 1, UMR INRA 1202 BIOGECO, 33405 Talence, France
    2. Department of Biological Sciences; and Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011 USA
      E-mail: r.michalet@ecologie.u-bordeaux1.fr
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  • Sa Xiao,

    1. University Bordeaux 1, UMR INRA 1202 BIOGECO, 33405 Talence, France
    2. MOE Key Laboratory of Arid and Grassland Ecology, School of Life Science, Lanzhou University, CN-730000 Lanzhou, China
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  • Blaise Touzard,

    1. University Bordeaux 1, UMR INRA 1202 BIOGECO, 33405 Talence, France
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  • David S. Smith,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences; and Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011 USA
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  • Lohengrin A. Cavieres,

    1. Departamento de Botánica, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Oceanográphicas, Universidad de Concepcion, Insituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad-IEB, Concepcion 4070043, Chile
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  • Ragan M. Callaway,

    1. Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, USA
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  • Thomas G. Whitham

    1. Department of Biological Sciences; and Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011 USA
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E-mail: r.michalet@ecologie.u-bordeaux1.fr

Abstract

Ecology Letters (2011) 14: 433–443

Abstract

Much is known about facilitation, but virtually nothing about the underlying genetic and evolutionary consequences of this important interaction. We assessed the potential of phenotypic differences in facilitative effects of a foundation species to determine the composition of an Alpine community in Arizona. Two phenotypes of Geum rossii occur along a gradient of disturbance, with ‘tight’ competitive cushions in stable conditions and ‘loose’ facilitative cushions in disturbed conditions. A common-garden study suggested that field-based traits may have a genetic basis. Field experiments showed that the reproductive fitness of G. rossii cushions decreased with increasing facilitation. Finally, using a dual-lattice model we showed that including the cost and benefit of facilitation may contribute to the co-occurrence of genotypes with contrasting facilitative effects. Our results indicate that changes in community composition due to phenotypic differences in facilitative effects of a foundation species may in turn affect selective pressures on the foundation species.

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