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Growth responses to soil water potential indirectly shape local species distributions of tropical forest seedlings

Title data

Kupers, Stefan J. ; Engelbrecht, Bettina ; Hernandez, Andrés ; Wright, S. Joseph ; Wirth, Christian ; Rüger, Nadja:
Growth responses to soil water potential indirectly shape local species distributions of tropical forest seedlings.
In: Journal of Ecology. Vol. 107 (2019) Issue 2 . - pp. 860-874.
ISSN 1365-2745
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.13096

Abstract in another language

Local tree species distributions in tropical forests correlate strongly with soil water availability. However, it is unclear how species distributions are shaped by demographic responses to soil water availability. Specifically, it remains unknown how growth affects species distributions along water availability gradients rela- tive to mortality.We quantified spatial variation in dry season soil water potential (SWP) in the moist tropical forest on Barro Colorado Island, Panama, and used a hierarchical Bayesian approach to evaluate relationships between demographic responses of naturally regenerating seedlings to SWP (RGRs and first-year mortality) and spe- cies distributions along the SWP gradient for 62 species. We also tested whether species that were more abundant at the wet or dry end of the gradient performed better (a) at their “home end” of the gradient (“best at home” hypothesis) and (b) “at home” compared to co-occurring species (“home advantage” hypothesis).Four and five species responded significantly to SWP in terms of growth or mor- tality respectively. Growth (but not mortality) responses were positively related to species distributions along the SWP gradient; species with a more positive (negative) growth response to SWP were more abundant at higher (lower) SWP, that is, at wetter (drier) sites. In addition, wet distributed species grew faster on the wet end of the SWP gradient than on the dry end (“best at home”) and grew faster on the wet end than dry distributed species (“home advantage”). Mortality rates declined with seedling size for all species. Thus, seedling growth responses to SWP indirectly shaped local species distributions by influencing seedling size and thereby mortality risk.4. Synthesis. By demonstrating how growth responses to spatial variation in soil water availability affect species distributions, we identified a demographic pro- cess underlying niche differentiation on hydrological gradients in tropical forests. Recognizing the role of these growth responses in shaping species distributions should improve the understanding of tropical forest composition and diversity along rainfall gradients and with climate change.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Additional notes: BAYCEER151551
Institutions of the University: Research Institutions
Research Institutions > Research Centres
Research Institutions > Research Centres > Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research- BayCEER
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Professor Plant Ecology
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Professor Plant Ecology > Professor Plant Ecology - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Bettina Engelbrecht
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 500 Science
500 Science > 570 Life sciences, biology
500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2020 09:22
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2020 09:22
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/53859