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Competition, facilitation and environmental severity shape the relationship between local and regional species richness in plant communities

Abstract : Understanding the relative contribution of local and regional processes to local species richness is an important ecological question and a subject of controversy between macroecologists and community ecologists. We test the hypothesis that the contribution of local and regional processes is dependent on environmental conditions and that the eff ect of regional processes should be the highest in communities from intermediate positions along environmental severity gradients due to the importance of facilitation. We used the recently developed log-ratio method to analyze the relationship between local species richness (LSR) and regional species richness (RSR) for 13 plant communities from 4 habitat types of France (coastal sand dunes, oceanic heathlands, alpine grasslands, lowland calcareous grasslands). Each habitat type wassplit in 3 – 4 communities using multivariate analyses to identify the relative importance of stress, disturbance, competition, and facilitation functioning within the 13 communities. We found that the LSR/RSR relationship was highly dependent on environmental conditions with saturated communities occurring more frequently than unsaturated communities highlighting the relative importance of local drivers on species richness. We argued that competition was most likely the main source of community saturation whilst facilitation likely contributed to enhancing the importance of the regional species pool for all habitat types. However, the eff ect of facilitation might be stronger in the disturbed than in the stressed systems because unsaturated curves were only observed in the former conditions. In extreme conditions of disturbance LSR was only controlled by the intensity of disturbance. Th is eff ect was not observed in extreme stress conditions. Our study provides support for the emerging balance theory that both local and regional processes are important in nature with their relative contribution depending on environmental conditions. Additionally, this synthesis strongly suggests that facilitation contributes to an important process – the influence of regional species pool on local species richness.
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Contributor : Valerie Briand Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 3:45:14 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - 12:27:12 PM

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Richard Michalet, Jean-Paul Maalouf, Philippe Choler, Bernard Clément, David Rosebery, et al.. Competition, facilitation and environmental severity shape the relationship between local and regional species richness in plant communities. Ecography, Wiley, 2014, 37, pp.1-11. ⟨10.1111/ecog.01106⟩. ⟨hal-01118668⟩



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