Change in community phylogenetic structure during tropical forest succession

Evidence from New Guinea

T. J S Whitfeld, W. J. Kress, D. L. Erickson, G. D. Weiblen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

71 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ecologists have recently interpreted patterns of phylogenetic distance among coexisting species as indicative of processes affecting community assembly during forest succession. We investigated plant community phylogenetic structure along a successional gradient in New Guinean lowland rain forest. We surveyed all trees with diameter at breast height ≥ 5 cm in nineteen 0.25 ha plots representing younger secondary, older secondary, and primary forest. We estimated plant community phylogeny from rbcL gene sequences to quantify change in phylogenetic structure during succession. Mean phylogenetic distance among co-occurring trees increased with total basal area per plot, a proxy for forest age. Significant phylogenetic clustering was detected in secondary forest whereas primary forest was significantly over-dispersed relative to null expectations. We examined the sensitivity of these patterns to various methods of branch length estimation and phylogenetic uncertainty. Power to detect community phylogenetic patterns when equal branch lengths were assumed was weak in comparison to direct molecular and time-calibrated measures of divergence. Inferred change during forest succession was also robust to phylogenetic uncertainty so long as temporal information was incorporated in estimates of divergence. The observed patterns are consistent with processes of environmental filtering during tropical forest succession giving way to other processes in primary forests including density-dependence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-830
Number of pages10
JournalEcography
Volume35
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012

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forest succession
New Guinea
tropical forests
tropical forest
phylogenetics
phylogeny
primary forests
secondary forest
secondary forests
plant community
plant communities
divergence
uncertainty
density dependence
basal area
lowland forests
ecologists
tree and stand measurements
rain forests
nucleotide sequences

Cite this

Change in community phylogenetic structure during tropical forest succession : Evidence from New Guinea. / Whitfeld, T. J S; Kress, W. J.; Erickson, D. L.; Weiblen, G. D.

In: Ecography, Vol. 35, No. 9, 01.09.2012, p. 821-830.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Whitfeld, T. J S ; Kress, W. J. ; Erickson, D. L. ; Weiblen, G. D. / Change in community phylogenetic structure during tropical forest succession : Evidence from New Guinea. In: Ecography. 2012 ; Vol. 35, No. 9. pp. 821-830.
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