Anglia Ruskin University
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Common species contribute little to spatial patterns of functional diversity across scales in coastal grasslands

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posted on 2023-07-26, 15:42 authored by Hannah J. White, Robin J. Pakeman, Yvonne M. Buckley
Spatial patterns of functional diversity are important in understanding community assembly as well as spatial variation in ecosystem functioning, yet the contribution of different species to these patterns remains unclear, making it difficult to generalise. Several studies have previously used a sequential addition approach to determine the subsets of species that contribute to the spatial distribution of species richness, frequently showing the importance of common species to richness patterns. This approach, however, has not been applied to functional diversity despite the central role of species traits in community ecology. Here we use a multiscale survey of plants from the Machair grassland system of the Western Isles of Scotland to ask the following questions: (i) Do functional diversity patterns correlate better with geographically common or geographically rare species?; (ii) Do their relative contributions vary with spatial scale?; and (iii) Do these patterns vary between functional diversity measures? We show that while species richness patterns correlate with geographically common species, common species contribute less than expected to spatial patterns of functional diversity at frequently used spatial monitoring scales. The relative contribution of species to overall biodiversity patterns, however, can vary with spatial scale. Synthesis. Surveying only common species may be inadequate for estimating spatial patterns of functional diversity, especially if using occurrence as opposed to percentage cover or abundance data, and spatial scale needs to be considered when designing surveys. Our approach highlights the species that may be adequate indicators of different dimensions of biodiversity and contributes to our understanding of the distribution of functional diversity in space.



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Journal of Ecology





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Faculty of Science & Engineering

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