Environmental gradients and the evolution of successional habitat specialization: a test case with 14 neotropical forest sites

Letcher, Susan G., Lasky, Jesse R., Chazdon, Robin L., Norden, Natalia, Wright, S. Joseph, Meave, Jorge A., Pérez-García, Eduardo A., Munoz, Rodrigo, Romero-Pérez, Eunice, Andrade, Ana, Andrade, José Luis, Balvanera, Patricia, Becknell, Justin M., Bentos, Tony V., Bhaskar, Radika, Bongers, Frans, Boukili, Vanessa, Brancalion, Pedro H.S., César, Ricardo G., Clark, Deborah A., Clark, David B., Craven, Dylan, DeFrancesco, Alexander, Dupuy, Juan M., Finegan, Bryan, González-Jiménez, Eugenio, Hall, Jefferson S., Harms, Kyle E., Hernández-Stefanoni, José Luis, Hietz, Peter, Kennard, Deborah, Killeen, Timothy J., Laurance, Susan G., Lebrija-Trejos, Edwin E., Lohbeck, Madelon, Martínez-Ramos, Miguel, Massoca, Paulo E.S., Mesquita, Rita C.G., Mora, Francisco, Muscarella, Robert, Paz, Horacio, Pineda-García, Fernando, Powers, Jennifer S., Quesada-Monge, Ruperto, Rodrigues, Ricardo R., Sandor, Manette E., Sanaphre-Villanueva, Lucía, Schüller, Elisabeth, Swenson, Nathan G., Tauro, Alejandra, Uriarte, María, van Breugel, Michiel, Vargas-Ramírez, Orlando, Viani, Ricardo A.G., Wendt, Amanda L., and Williamson, G. Bruce (2015) Environmental gradients and the evolution of successional habitat specialization: a test case with 14 neotropical forest sites. Journal of Ecology, 103 (5). pp. 1276-1290.

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Abstract

Successional gradients are ubiquitous in nature, yet few studies have systematically examined the evolutionary origins of taxa that specialize at different successional stages. Here we quantify successional habitat specialization in Neotropical forest trees and evaluate its evolutionary lability along a precipitation gradient. Theoretically, successional habitat specialization should be more evolutionarily conserved in wet forests than in dry forests due to more extreme microenvironmental differentiation between early and late-successional stages in wet forest. We applied a robust multinomial classification model to samples of primary and secondary forest trees from 14 Neotropical lowland forest sites spanning a precipitation gradient from 788 to 4000mm annual rainfall, identifying species that are old-growth specialists and secondary forest specialists in each site. We constructed phylogenies for the classified taxa at each site and for the entire set of classified taxa and tested whether successional habitat specialization is phylogenetically conserved. We further investigated differences in the functional traits of species specializing in secondary vs. old-growth forest along the precipitation gradient, expecting different trait associations with secondary forest specialists in wet vs. dry forests since water availability is more limiting in dry forests and light availability more limiting in wet forests. Successional habitat specialization is non-randomly distributed in the angiosperm phylogeny, with a tendency towards phylogenetic conservatism overall and a trend towards stronger conservatism in wet forests than in dry forests. However, the specialists come from all the major branches of the angiosperm phylogeny, and very few functional traits showed any consistent relationships with successional habitat specialization in either wet or dry forests.Synthesis. The niche conservatism evident in the habitat specialization of Neotropical trees suggests a role for radiation into different successional habitats in the evolution of species-rich genera, though the diversity of functional traits that lead to success in different successional habitats complicates analyses at the community scale. Examining the distribution of particular lineages with respect to successional gradients may provide more insight into the role of successional habitat specialization in the evolution of species-rich taxa.

Item ID: 41968
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-2745
Keywords: determinants of plant community diversity and structure, functional traits, life-history evolution, phylogeny, pioneer species, precipitation gradient, tropical dry forest, tropical wet forest
Funders: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), National Council for Science and Technology, Mexico (CONACyT), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), National Science Foundation (NSF), Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Organisation for Tropical Studies (OTS), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Columbia University, Bolivia Sustainable Forest Management Program (BOLFOR), National Geographic Society (NGS), Tinker Foundation, University of Minnesota, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR), Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán, MEX (YUC), Blue Moon Fund, Centre for Tropical Forest Science , Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (JDCTMF), Small World Institute , Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) Climate Partnership, Panama Canal Authority, Frank Levinson Family Foundation, Motta Family Foundation
Projects and Grants: NWO W85-326, CONACyT 2002-C01-0597, CONACyT CB-2005-01-51043, CONACyT CB-2009-01-128136, UNAM IN 216007-3, NSF DEB-0424767, NSF DEB-0639114 , NSF DEB-1110722, NSF DEB-0614044, NSF DEB-1147434, NSF DEB-0639114 , NSF DEB9201 1026, NGS 5570-95, NASA NS000107, NSF DEB-1053237 , YUC-2008-C06-108863, CONACyT 46701, NSF DEB-0640386, NSF DEB-0425651, NSF DEB-0346488, NSF DEB-0129874, NSF DEB-00753102, NSF DEB-9909347, NSF DEB-9615226, NSF DEB-9615226, NSF DEB-9405933, NSF DEB-9221033, NSF DEB-9100058, NSF DEB-8906869, NSF DEB-8605042, NSF DEB-8206992 , NSF DEB-7922197, UNAM IN208012, CONACyT 2012-179045, CONACyT 2009-129740, UNAM IN229007-3
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 18:19
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060303 Biological Adaptation @ 34%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060302 Biogeography and Phylogeography @ 33%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060208 Terrestrial Ecology @ 33%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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