Oecologia

, Volume 178, Issue 1, pp 261–273 | Cite as

Null model approaches to evaluating the relative role of different assembly processes in shaping ecological communities

  • Akira S. Mori
  • Saori Fujii
  • Ryo Kitagawa
  • Dai Koide
Community ecology - Original research

Abstract

Various local processes simultaneously shape ecological assemblages. β-diversity is a useful metric for inferring the underlying mechanisms of community assembly. However, β-diversity is not independent of γ-diversity, which may mask the local mechanisms that govern community processes across regions. Recent approaches that rely on an abundance-based null model could solve this sampling issue. However, if abundance varies widely across a region, the relative roles of deterministic and stochastic processes may be substantially misestimated. Furthermore, there is additional uncertainty as to whether null models used to correct γ-dependence in β-diversity should be independent of the observed patterns of species abundance distributions or whether the models should reflect these patterns. Here, we aim to test what null models with various constraints imply about the underlying processes shaping β-diversity. First, we found that an abundance-driven sampling effect could substantially influence the calculation of γ-corrected β-diversity. Second, we found that the null models that preserve the species abundance patterns could better reflect empirical patterns of spatial organization of individuals. The different implications generated from different applications of the null model approach therefore suggest that there are still frontiers regarding how local processes that shape species assemblages should be quantified. Carefully exploring each facet within different assembly processes is important.

Keywords

Abundance β-diversity Community assembly Biogeographical gradient Species abundance distributions 

Supplementary material

442_2014_3170_MOESM1_ESM.doc (134 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 134 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Akira S. Mori
    • 1
  • Saori Fujii
    • 1
  • Ryo Kitagawa
    • 1
  • Dai Koide
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of Environment and Information SciencesYokohama National UniversityHodogayaJapan

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