Disturbance Alters the Phylogenetic Composition and Structure of Plant Communities in an Old Field System

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53). 09/2009; 4(9):e7071. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007071
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The changes in phylogenetic composition and structure of communities during succession following disturbance can give us insights into the forces that are shaping communities over time. In abandoned agricultural fields, community composition changes rapidly when a field is plowed, and is thought to reflect a relaxation of competition due to the elimination of dominant species which take time to re-establish. Competition can drive phylogenetic overdispersion, due to phylogenetic conservation of 'niche' traits that allow species to partition resources. Therefore, undisturbed old field communities should exhibit higher phylogenetic dispersion than recently disturbed systems, which should be relatively 'clustered' with respect to phylogenetic relationships. Several measures of phylogenetic structure between plant communities were measured in recently plowed areas and nearby 'undisturbed' sites. There was no difference in the absolute values of these measures between disturbed and 'undisturbed' sites. However, there was a difference in the 'expected' phylogenetic structure between habitats, leading to significantly lower than expected phylogenetic diversity in disturbed plots, and no difference from random expectation in 'undisturbed' plots. This suggests that plant species characteristic of each habitat are fairly evenly distributed on the shared species pool phylogeny, but that once the initial sorting of species into the two habitat types has occurred, the processes operating on them affect each habitat differently. These results were consistent with an analysis of correlation between phylogenetic distance and co-occurrence indices of species pairs in the two habitat types. This study supports the notion that disturbed plots are more clustered than expected, rather than 'undisturbed' plots being more overdispersed, suggesting that disturbed plant communities are being more strongly influenced by environmental filtering of conserved niche traits.

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    • "This method was first used in the studies of plant communities (e.g. Webb, 2000; Dinnage, 2009; Parmentier et al., 2014; de Freitas et al., 2014), but is now increasingly used to analyze the community assembly of mycorrhizal fungi (e.g. Lim and Berbee, 2013; Grilli et al., 2014; Horn et al., 2014; Rinc on et al., 2014; Shi et al., 2014). "
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract
    Soil Biology and Biochemistry 10/2015; 89:196-205. DOI:10.1016/j.soilbio.2015.07.007 · 4.41 Impact Factor
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    • "Under the assumption of phylogenetic niche conservatism (the niche-related traits are similar among closely related lineages), in theory, the environmental filtering and competitive exclusion should generate patterns of phylogenetical clustering and overdispersion, respectively (Webb et al. 2002). This method was widely used in the studies of plant community (Dinnage 2009; Yang et al. 2012; Parmentier et al. 2014), but in recent years it has been increasingly used to analyze the communities of mycorrhizal fungi (Kivlin et al. 2011; Lim and Berbee 2013; Horn et al. 2014; Rincón et al. 2014; Saks et al. 2014; Shi et al. 2014b) and other microbes (Pontarp et al. 2012; Wang et al. 2013). Since the functional traits of AMF have been shown to be conserved (Powell et al. 2009; Maherali and Klironomos 2012), the ecological processes driving AMF assemblages can be efficiently inferred from the community phylogenetic structure (e.g. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background and aims Understanding the role of resource availability in structuring biotic communities is of importance in community ecology. This study investigates how light and soil nutrient availability drive assemblages of both plants and their root-associated arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). Methods We conducted a 4-year light [full light or shade] and soil fertility [unfertilized or fertilized with (NH4)2HPO4] interactive manipulations in an alpine meadow ecosystem. Species and phylogenetic compositions of plant and AMF communities were simultaneously measured, and the primary ecological processes structuring both communities were inferred from the community phylogenetic analysis. Results Reducing light and/or increasing soil fertility significantly reduced species richness and changed community compositions of both plant and AMF. Plant community phylogenetic structure shifted from random in untreated control to overdispersion in other treatments, whereas AMF communities were phylogenetically clustered and random in unfertilized and fertilized plots, respectively. These results suggest that plant communities in treated plots were mainly determined by competitive exclusion, and that AMF communities in unfertilized and fertilized plots were determined by environmental filtering and random process, respectively. Conclusions We observed strong effects of light and soil nutrient availability on both plant and AMF communities, and our findings highlight that the primary ecological processes that drive plant and AMF assemblages should be highly dependent on the level of resource availability.
    Plant and Soil 09/2014; 386(1-2). DOI:10.1007/s11104-014-2261-z · 3.24 Impact Factor
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    • "Disturbance 74 may affect not only species composition, but also phylogenetic community structure. Thus, 75 disturbance has been found to cause phylogenetic clustering in ploughed fields as compared to 76 abandoned fields (Dinnage 2009), i.e. species in disturbed areas are more closely related than 77 expected by chance due to shared phylogenetically conserved traits contributing to disturbance 78 tolerance. Furthermore, clustering has been found to be the most pronounced phylogenetic signal in 79 coastal dunes in Denmark and linked to anthropogenic disturbances (Brunbjerg et al. 2012a). "
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    ABSTRACT: Coastal dunes are dynamic systems maintained and renewed by disturbance. Concerns have been raised over shrub and tree encroachment, changes in species composition and decreasing species richness in coastal dunes with nitrogen (N) deposition and loss of natural dynamics acknowledged as pressures. We tested the effects of N-deposition and disturbance on Danish dune grassland vegetation. We applied simulated trampling, grazing, blowouts and N-deposition in a randomized design to ten sites along the major natural gradient in the area. After three years we recorded plant, bryophyte and lichen biomass as well as species frequency, foliar N and P, soil pH and soil organic matter content. We hypothesized that species richness would increase with disturbance and decrease with N-addition while biomass was expected to increase with N-addition. Disturbance was expected to counteract the effects of N-addition. The hypotheses were tested using linear mixed effects models on species richness, biomass and phylogenetic community structure with treatments and interactions among treatments as explanatory variables and site as a random effect. Although N-deposition affected plant nutrient balance, the effect of N-addition on vegetation was consistently smaller than the effect of disturbance, especially cutting. Disturbances all had the opposite effect to N-addition causing an increase in species richness and decrease of biomass. The subordinate effect of N-addition likely reflects that growth is limited by moisture rather than nitrogen. Disturbances apparently relaxed the ecological filtering during community assembly, resulting in a more diverse community of less related species. Anthropogenic suppression of disturbances by wind, coastal erosion or grazing animals may potentially be a larger threat to dune biodiversity than increased N-deposition.
    Biological Conservation 06/2014; 174:101–110. DOI:10.1016/j.biocon.2014.04.002 · 4.04 Impact Factor
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