Elevated carbon dioxide is predicted to promote coexistence among competing species in a trait-based model

Ashehad A. Ali, Belinda E. Medlyn, Thomas G. Aubier, Kristine Y. Crous, Peter B. Reich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Differential species responses to atmospheric CO2 concentration (Ca ) could lead to quantitative changes in competition among species and community compo-sition, with flow-on effects for ecosystem function. However, there has been little theoretical analysis of how elevated Ca (eCa) will affect plant competition, or how composition of plant communities might change. Such theoretical analysis is needed for developing testable hypotheses to frame experimental research. Here, we investigated theoretically how plant competition might change under eCa by implementing two alternative competition theories, resource use theory and resource capture theory, in a plant carbon and nitrogen cycling model. The model makes several novel predictions for the impact of eCa on plant community composition. Using resource use theory, the model predicts that eCa is unlikely to change species dominance in competition, but is likely to increase coexistence among species. Using resource capture theory, the model predicts that eCa may increase community evenness. Collectively, both theories suggest that eCa will favor coexistence and hence that species diversity should increase with eCa . Our theoretical analysis leads to a novel hypothesis for the impact of eCa on plant community composition. This hypothesis has potential to help guide the design and interpretation of eCa experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4717-4733
Number of pages17
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume5
Issue number20
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Authors.

Keywords

  • Elevated CO
  • plant competition
  • species diversity
  • species traits

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