The role of phylogeny in the spatial distributions and assembly of mountain plant communities.


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Thèse: thèse de doctorat.
The role of phylogeny in the spatial distributions and assembly of mountain plant communities.
Ndiribe C.
Guisan  A.
Salamin  N.
Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
Department of Ecology and Evolution Faculté de biologie et de médecine Université de Lausanne UNIL - Bugnon Rue du Bugnon 21 - bureau 4111 CH-1015 Lausanne SUISSE
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A major challenge in community ecology is a thorough understanding of the processes that govern the assembly and composition of communities in time and space. The growing threat of climate change to the vascular plant biodiversity of fragile ecosystems such as mountains has made it equally imperative to develop comprehensive methodologies to provide insights into how communities are assembled. In this perspective, the primary objective of this PhD thesis is to contribute to the theoretical and methodological development of community ecology, by proposing new solutions to better detect the ecological and evolutionary processes that govern community assembly. As phylogenetic trees provide by far, the most advanced tools to integrate the spatial, ecological and evolutionary dynamics of plant communities, they represent the cornerstone on which this work was based.
In this thesis, I proposed new solutions to: (i) reveal trends in community assembly on phylogenies, depicted by the transition of signals at the nodes of the different species and lineages responsible for community assembly, (ii) contribute to evidence the importance of evolutionarily labile traits in the distribution of mountain plant species. More precisely, I demonstrated that phylogenetic and functional compositional turnover in plant communities was driven by climate and human land use gradients mostly influenced by evolutionarily labile traits, (iii) predict and spatially project the phylogenetic structure of communities using species distribution models, to identify the potential distribution of phylogenetic diversity, as well as areas of high evolutionary potential along elevation.
The altitudinal setting of the Diablerets mountains (Switzerland) provided an appropriate model for this study. The elevation gradient served as a compression of large latitudinal variations similar to a collection of islands within a single area, and allowed investigations on a large number of plant communities.
Overall, this thesis highlights that stochastic and deterministic environmental filtering processes mainly influence the phylogenetic structure of plant communities in mountainous areas. Negative density-dependent processes implied through patterns of phylogenetic overdispersion were only detected at the local scale, whereas environmental filtering implied through phylogenetic clustering was observed at both the regional and local scale. Finally, the integration of indices of phylogenetic community ecology with species distribution models revealed the prospects of providing novel and insightful explanations on the potential distribution of phylogenetic biodiversity in high mountain areas. These results generally demonstrate the usefulness of phylogenies in inferring assembly processes, and are worth considering in the theoretical and methodological development of tools to better understand phylogenetic community structure.
Création de la notice
16/10/2013 19:43
Dernière modification de la notice
03/03/2018 18:40
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