Historical environmental stability drives discordant niche filling dynamics across phylogenetic scales

Oliveira, Brunno F., Flenniken, Jeffry M., Guralnick, Robert P., Williams, Stephen E., and Scheffers, Brett R. (2020) Historical environmental stability drives discordant niche filling dynamics across phylogenetic scales. Journal of Biogeography, 47 (4). pp. 807-816.

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Aim: Regional diversity can increase owing to either the packing of species within regional niche space or the expansion of regional niche space. Yet, the primary factors dictating these dynamics remain poorly understood. Here, we assess the relative influence of current environmental conditions (net primary productivity, NPP) versus historic environmental stability over the Last Glacial Maximum on niche filling patterns of vertebrates (mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles) in the Australian Wet Tropics (AWTs). Location: Australian Wet Tropics. Taxon: Vertebrates (mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles). Methods: We measured patterns of niche filling (niche packing vs. niche expansion) as the standardized departure of observed functional diversity (FD) from its null expectation. We fitted spatial models for vertebrates, and for each constituent class (mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles) separately, to evaluate the relative effects of NPP and environmental stability on species richness and niche filling patterns. Results: Historical environmental stability had a greater effect than NPP on species richness and niche filling patterns. However, the directionality of this effect depended on phylogenetic scale, with vertebrates exhibiting niche packing while each constituent class (except reptiles) exhibited niche expansion with increasing environmental stability. Main Conclusion: Intra-class competition presumably leads to niche differentiation and expansion, whereas the overlap of functional traits among species from different classes leads to niche packing. That environmental stability over millennia is associated with an expanding niche space across multiple vertebrate classes suggests that the accumulation of FD within communities requires long recovery times.

Item ID: 67221
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-2699
Keywords: climate change, community assembly, disequilibrium, historical factor, saturation, Tetrapoda
Copyright Information: © 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Research Data: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3303180.v1
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2021 05:17
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410203 Ecosystem function @ 100%
SEO Codes: 19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1905 Understanding climate change > 190502 Climate variability (excl. social impacts) @ 100%
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