Generalised extreme value distributions provide a natural hypothesis for the shape of seed mass distributions

Edwards, Will, Moles, Angela T., and Chong, Caroline (2015) Generalised extreme value distributions provide a natural hypothesis for the shape of seed mass distributions. PLoS ONE, 10 (4). e0121724. pp. 1-9.

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Abstract

Among co-occurring species, values for functionally important plant traits span orders of magnitude, are uni-modal, and generally positively skewed. Such data are usually logtransformed "for normality" but no convincing mechanistic explanation for a log-normal expectation exists. Here we propose a hypothesis for the distribution of seed masses based on generalised extreme value distributions (GEVs), a class of probability distributions used in climatology to characterise the impact of event magnitudes and frequencies; events that impose strong directional selection on biological traits. In tests involving datasets from 34 locations across the globe, GEVs described log10 seed mass distributions as well or better than conventional normalising statistics in 79% of cases, and revealed a systematic tendency for an overabundance of small seed sizes associated with low latitudes. GEVs characterise disturbance events experienced in a location to which individual species' life histories could respond, providing a natural, biological explanation for trait expression that is lacking from all previous hypotheses attempting to describe trait distributions in multispecies assemblages. We suggest that GEVs could provide a mechanistic explanation for plant trait distributions and potentially link biology and climatology under a single paradigm.

Item ID: 39608
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Keywords: extreme value distribution, seed size, plant traits
Additional Information:

© 2015 Edwards et al. 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

Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2015 03:36
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060303 Biological Adaptation @ 25%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060208 Terrestrial Ecology @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060308 Life Histories @ 25%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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