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Habitat filtering drives the local distribution of congeneric species in a Brazilian white-sand flooded tropical forest
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  • Kelly Ribeiro,
  • Valeria Martins,
  • Thorsten Wiegand,
  • Flavio Santos
Kelly Ribeiro
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Valeria Martins
UFSCar
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Thorsten Wiegand
Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
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Flavio Santos
UNICAMP
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Abstract

The investigation of ecological processes that maintain species coexistence is important in harsh environments, as they act as strong drivers of species selection. Congeneric species are a good model to investigate the relative importance of such processes, as closely related species tend to have similar niches. We aim to find evidence for the action and relative importance of different ecological processes hypothesized to maintain species coexistence in a tropical forest subject to seasonal flooding, using the spatial structure of populations of three congeneric species. We collected data on a 1-ha plot of a Brazilian white-sand flooded tropical forest, where individuals of three Myrcia species were tagged, mapped, and measured for diameter at soil height. We also sampled seven environmental variables in the plot. We employed several spatial point pattern models to simultaneously investigate habitat filtering, interspecific competition, stochasticity, and dispersal limitation. Habitat filtering was the most important process driving the local distribution of the species, as they showed associations, albeit of different strength, to environmental variables related to flooding. We did not detect spatial patterns consistent with interspecific competition, i.e. spatial segregation and smaller size of nearby congeners. The three species do not seem to show evidence of stochasticity even though congeners were spatially independent, since they responded to differences in the environment. Last, dispersal limitation only led to spatial associations of different size classes for one of the species. Using data from congeneric species in a harsh environment as a model, we demonstrated that habitat filtering to areas subject to flooding is the most important ecological process driving the local distribution of the species studied in a white-sand forest. Even though many studies on topo-edaphic variation in tropical forests have shown that habitat filtering is an important ecological process, other processes that drive community structuring may have gone undetected.

Peer review status:IN REVISION

01 Jul 2020Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
02 Jul 2020Assigned to Editor
02 Jul 2020Submission Checks Completed
04 Jul 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
18 Sep 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
23 Sep 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor