Phylogenetic density dependence and environmental filtering predict seedling mortality in a tropical forest

Authors

  • C. E. Timothy Paine,

    Corresponding author
    1. AgroParisTech, UMR “Ecologie des Forêts de Guyane”, 97387, Kourou Cedex, French Guiana
      Correspondence and present address: Institut für Evolutionsbiologie und Umweltwissenschaften, Universität Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland.
      E-mail:timothy.paine@ieu.uzh.ch
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  • Natalia Norden,

    1. Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad de los Andes, Cra. 1 # 18A-10, Bogotá, D. C., Colombia
    2. Departamento de Ecologia y Territorio, Pontifica Universidad Javeriana. Transv. 4 No. 42-00, piso 8, Bogotá, Colombia
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  • Jérôme Chave,

    1. Université Paul Sabatier, CNRS, Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique UMR 5174, 31062 Toulouse, France
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  • Pierre-Michel Forget,

    1. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Brunoy, France
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  • Claire Fortunel,

    1. INRA, UMR “Ecologie des Forêts de Guyane”, 97387, Kourou Cedex, French Guiana
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  • Kyle G. Dexter,

    1. Université Paul Sabatier, CNRS, Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique UMR 5174, 31062 Toulouse, France
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  • Christopher Baraloto

    1. INRA, UMR “Ecologie des Forêts de Guyane”, 97387, Kourou Cedex, French Guiana
    2. Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 USA
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Correspondence and present address: Institut für Evolutionsbiologie und Umweltwissenschaften, Universität Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland.
E-mail:timothy.paine@ieu.uzh.ch

Abstract

Ecology Letters (2011) 14: 34–41

Abstract

Negative density dependence (NDD) and environmental filtering (EF) shape community assembly, but their relative importance is poorly understood. Recent studies have shown that seedling’s mortality risk is positively related to the phylogenetic relatedness of neighbours. However, natural enemies, whose depredations often cause NDD, respond to functional traits of hosts rather than phylogenetic relatedness per se. To understand the roles of NDD and EF in community assembly, we assessed the effects on seedling mortality of functional similarity, phylogenetic relatedness and stem density of neighbouring seedlings and adults in a species-rich tropical forest. Mortality risks increased for common species when their functional traits departed substantially from the neighbourhood mean, and for all species when surrounded by close relatives. This indicates that NDD affects community assembly more broadly than does EF, and leads to the tentative conclusion that natural enemies respond to phylogenetically correlated traits. Our results affirm the prominence of NDD in structuring species-rich communities.

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