Niche packing and expansion account for species richness-productivity relationships in global bird assemblages

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • Vincent Pellissier
  • ,
  • Jean-Yves Barnagaud, PSL Res Univ, CIRAD, Languedoc-Roussillon Universites (ComUE), Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), CNRS - Institute of Ecology & Environment (INEE), PSL Research University Paris, Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement (IRD), Universite de Montpellier, Universite Paul-Valery Montpellier 3, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Biogeog & Ecol Vertebres, CNRS, EPHE,UM,SupAgro,IND,INRA,CEFE,UMR 5175
  • ,
  • W. Daniel Kissling, Univ Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam, Inst Biodivers & Ecosyst Dynam
  • ,
  • Cagan Sekercioglu, Koc Univ, Koc University, Coll Sci
  • ,
  • Jens-Christian Svenning

Aim: Niche theory proposes that increases in species richness along an environmental gradient are associated with a packing of species inside the niche space or an expansion of the niche space. We test whether and under what conditions an increase in bird species richness along a gradient of resource availability is associated with an expansion or packing of the niche as measured based on traits related to resource use.

Location: Global.

Time period: Current.

Major taxa studied: Birds.

Methods: We measured birds' realized niche space as the standardized departure between observed total trait range and its null expectation (functional richness: SES.FRic) in 12,188 cells worldwide. We first correlated both species richness and this measurement along the global net primary productivity (NPP) gradient using linear regressions. Second, we investigated the non-stationarity of the species richness-NPP relationship with Lee's bivariate correlation, a measure of the spatial association of two variables. We then assessed the number of cells exhibiting a significant positive species richness-NPP association and a significant negative or positive SES.FRic. Third, we assessed whether species of species-rich assemblages occur within or outside the niche space of species-poor assemblages.

Results: At a global scale, we found that species richness and SES.FRic increased with NPP. We also showed that cells with a significant positive association between species richness and NPP exhibited niche packing (1,699 assemblages out of 12,188) more than niche expansion (five assemblages). Niche packing was associated with complex biomes such as tropical rain forests. Finally, by showing that species in species-rich assemblages predominantly occur within the niche space of species-poor assemblages, we showed that the increase in SES.FRic with NPP contributed little to the increase in species richness.

Main conclusion: Although niche volume increases with species richness along an NPP gradient, we confirmed that niche packing is the pattern most associated with the species richness-NPP relationship at a global scale.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Pages (from-to)604-615
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - May 2018

    Research areas

  • birds, functional richness, net primary productivity (NPP), niche expansion, niche packing, resources, species richness, NET PRIMARY PRODUCTION, FUNCTIONAL DIVERSITY, ENERGY RELATIONSHIPS, HUMAN APPROPRIATION, SCALE VARIATION, PATTERNS, SPECIALIZATION, INDIVIDUALS, CLIMATE, COMMUNITIES

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 126962835