Department of Biology

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Henrik Balslev

Scale-dependent drivers of the phylogenetic structure and similarity of tree communities in northwestern Amazonia

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  • Sebastián González-Caro, Universidad Nacional de Colombia
  • ,
  • Joost F. Duivenvoorden, University of Amsterdam
  • ,
  • Henrik Balslev
  • Jaime Cavelier, Global Enviromental Facility (GEF)
  • ,
  • César Grández, National University of the Peruvian Amazon
  • ,
  • Manuel J. Macía, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • ,
  • Hugo Romero-Saltos, Yachay Tech University
  • ,
  • Mauricio Sánchez, Universidad Nacional de Colombia
  • ,
  • Renato Valencia, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador
  • ,
  • Álvaro Duque, Universidad Nacional de Colombia

The extent to which historical dispersal, environmental features and geographical barriers shape the phylogenetic structure and turnover of tree communities in northwestern Amazonia at multiple spatial scales remains poorly understood. We used 85 floristically standardized 0.1-ha plots (DBH ≥ 2.5 cm) distributed in three subregions of northwestern (NW) Amazonia across three main habitat types (floodplain, swamp and terra firme forests) to hypothesize that (a) historical dispersal overcome geographical barriers, which meant low local phylogenetic relatedness and low phylogenetic turnover. (b) Geographical barriers triggered dispersal limitation, causing high local and subregional phylogenetic clustering and high regional phylogenetic turnover. (c) Edaphic properties and flooding were negatively associated with stem size and determined the tree phylogenetic structure and turnover at local and regional scales in Amazon forests. We found that the extent to which environmental or evolutionary features shaped the phylogenetic structure and phylogenetic similarity of tree communities in NW Amazonia was scale dependent. Specifically, we show that the relative importance of environmental factors increases as spatial scale and species pool decreases. Furthermore, we find that these results are generally robust for both adult and juvenile trees. Synthesis. Our analysis at the regional (NW Amazon) scale lends support to the idea of Amazonian forests as a large meta-community primarily structured by historical dispersal at large spatial scales with an increasing importance of environmental factors at finer spatial scales. The convergence of ancestral lineages across habitat types may have been due to the relatively recent formation of geographical barriers that promoted local isolation and allopatric speciation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Ecology
Pages (from-to)888-899
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

    Research areas

  • Amazon meta-community, flooding, historical dispersal, null models, soil heterogeneity, spatial scale

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