Niche differentiation and neutral theory: An integrated perspective on shrub assemblages in a parkland savanna

C. J. Stokes, Steve Archer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Investigations of structure in ecological communities need to move beyond the dichotomy between niche and neutral theory to broader conceptual frameworks that accommodate both neutral stochastic and biological structuring processes in organizing species assemblages. We propose and test a framework that integrates niche and neutralassembly perspectives and determines their relative contributions in structuring diverse shrub species assemblages in a parkland savanna. Our approach proposes that stochastic dispersal processes initially govern the assemblage of species in discrete shrub clusters developing in grassland, but that community structure subsequently develops through the progressive action of first positive, then negative interactions among species. A comparison of observed patterns of occurrence and niche models for 12 shrub cluster species against neutral predictions revealed that neutral stochastic, island biogeographic processes accounted for most patterns of species occurrence. One species showed strong evidence of successional differentiation, whereas evidence of slight recruitment biases for five others was equivocal. Our results demonstrate the usefulness of an approach that accommodates contributions of both neutral and niche assembly rather than assuming either process alone is sufficient to account for community structure. Further development and testing of robust and falsifiable neutral theory will allow ecologists to critically evaluate the relative roles of niche differentiation and neutral, stochastic processes in structuring communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1152-1162
Number of pages11
JournalEcology
Volume91
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2010

Fingerprint

savanna
savannas
niche
niches
shrub
shrubs
community structure
stochastic processes
ecologists
species occurrence
stochasticity
conceptual framework
grasslands
testing
grassland
prediction

Keywords

  • Akaike information criterion (AIC)
  • Assembly rules
  • Model selection
  • Prosopis glandulosa
  • Species assemblage
  • Succession
  • Texas
  • Texas agrilife la capita research area
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Niche differentiation and neutral theory : An integrated perspective on shrub assemblages in a parkland savanna. / Stokes, C. J.; Archer, Steve.

In: Ecology, Vol. 91, No. 4, 04.2010, p. 1152-1162.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{af31ff0748c64a34950ecdbd31532417,
title = "Niche differentiation and neutral theory: An integrated perspective on shrub assemblages in a parkland savanna",
abstract = "Investigations of structure in ecological communities need to move beyond the dichotomy between niche and neutral theory to broader conceptual frameworks that accommodate both neutral stochastic and biological structuring processes in organizing species assemblages. We propose and test a framework that integrates niche and neutralassembly perspectives and determines their relative contributions in structuring diverse shrub species assemblages in a parkland savanna. Our approach proposes that stochastic dispersal processes initially govern the assemblage of species in discrete shrub clusters developing in grassland, but that community structure subsequently develops through the progressive action of first positive, then negative interactions among species. A comparison of observed patterns of occurrence and niche models for 12 shrub cluster species against neutral predictions revealed that neutral stochastic, island biogeographic processes accounted for most patterns of species occurrence. One species showed strong evidence of successional differentiation, whereas evidence of slight recruitment biases for five others was equivocal. Our results demonstrate the usefulness of an approach that accommodates contributions of both neutral and niche assembly rather than assuming either process alone is sufficient to account for community structure. Further development and testing of robust and falsifiable neutral theory will allow ecologists to critically evaluate the relative roles of niche differentiation and neutral, stochastic processes in structuring communities.",
keywords = "Akaike information criterion (AIC), Assembly rules, Model selection, Prosopis glandulosa, Species assemblage, Succession, Texas, Texas agrilife la capita research area, USA",
author = "Stokes, {C. J.} and Steve Archer",
year = "2010",
month = "4",
doi = "10.1890/08-1105.1",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "91",
pages = "1152--1162",
journal = "Ecology",
issn = "0012-9658",
publisher = "Ecological Society of America",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Niche differentiation and neutral theory

T2 - An integrated perspective on shrub assemblages in a parkland savanna

AU - Stokes, C. J.

AU - Archer, Steve

PY - 2010/4

Y1 - 2010/4

N2 - Investigations of structure in ecological communities need to move beyond the dichotomy between niche and neutral theory to broader conceptual frameworks that accommodate both neutral stochastic and biological structuring processes in organizing species assemblages. We propose and test a framework that integrates niche and neutralassembly perspectives and determines their relative contributions in structuring diverse shrub species assemblages in a parkland savanna. Our approach proposes that stochastic dispersal processes initially govern the assemblage of species in discrete shrub clusters developing in grassland, but that community structure subsequently develops through the progressive action of first positive, then negative interactions among species. A comparison of observed patterns of occurrence and niche models for 12 shrub cluster species against neutral predictions revealed that neutral stochastic, island biogeographic processes accounted for most patterns of species occurrence. One species showed strong evidence of successional differentiation, whereas evidence of slight recruitment biases for five others was equivocal. Our results demonstrate the usefulness of an approach that accommodates contributions of both neutral and niche assembly rather than assuming either process alone is sufficient to account for community structure. Further development and testing of robust and falsifiable neutral theory will allow ecologists to critically evaluate the relative roles of niche differentiation and neutral, stochastic processes in structuring communities.

AB - Investigations of structure in ecological communities need to move beyond the dichotomy between niche and neutral theory to broader conceptual frameworks that accommodate both neutral stochastic and biological structuring processes in organizing species assemblages. We propose and test a framework that integrates niche and neutralassembly perspectives and determines their relative contributions in structuring diverse shrub species assemblages in a parkland savanna. Our approach proposes that stochastic dispersal processes initially govern the assemblage of species in discrete shrub clusters developing in grassland, but that community structure subsequently develops through the progressive action of first positive, then negative interactions among species. A comparison of observed patterns of occurrence and niche models for 12 shrub cluster species against neutral predictions revealed that neutral stochastic, island biogeographic processes accounted for most patterns of species occurrence. One species showed strong evidence of successional differentiation, whereas evidence of slight recruitment biases for five others was equivocal. Our results demonstrate the usefulness of an approach that accommodates contributions of both neutral and niche assembly rather than assuming either process alone is sufficient to account for community structure. Further development and testing of robust and falsifiable neutral theory will allow ecologists to critically evaluate the relative roles of niche differentiation and neutral, stochastic processes in structuring communities.

KW - Akaike information criterion (AIC)

KW - Assembly rules

KW - Model selection

KW - Prosopis glandulosa

KW - Species assemblage

KW - Succession

KW - Texas

KW - Texas agrilife la capita research area

KW - USA

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=77951169050&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=77951169050&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1890/08-1105.1

DO - 10.1890/08-1105.1

M3 - Article

C2 - 20462129

AN - SCOPUS:77951169050

VL - 91

SP - 1152

EP - 1162

JO - Ecology

JF - Ecology

SN - 0012-9658

IS - 4

ER -