Significant competitive dominance in mid-latitude European plant communities [article]

Jose A Capitan, Sara Cuenda, Alejandro Ordonez, David Alonso
2016 bioRxiv   pre-print
Understanding the main determinants of species coexistence across space and time is a central question in ecology. However, ecologists still know little about the scales and conditions at which biotic interactions matter and their interplay with the environment to structure species assemblages. Here we develop ecological theory to analyze plant distribution and trait data across Europe and find that plant height clustering is related to evapotranspiration and gross primary productivity. Our
more » ... ysis suggests competitive dominance as a plausible mechanism underlying community assembly patterns over continental scales. In particular, we find a clear signal of plant-to-plant competition in mid-latitude ecoregions, where conditions for growth (reflected in actual evapotranspiration rates and gross primary productivities) are optimal. Under severe conditions, either climate is too harsh and overrides the effect of competition or other interactions play a relevant role. Our approach bridges the gap between modern coexistence theory and large-scale species distribution data analysis.
doi:10.1101/056309 fatcat:5wjkzwzlnbalxni5da3zf62rru