The ecological causes of functional distinctiveness in communities

Type Article
Date 2023-08
Language English
Author(s) Munoz FrançoisORCID1, Klausmeier Christopher2, 3, Gaüzère Pierre4, Kandlikar Gaurav5, 6, Litchman Elena2, 3, Mouquet Nicolas7, 8, Ostling Annette9, Thuiller Wilfried4, Algar Adam10, Auber ArnaudORCID11, Cadotte MarcORCID12, Delalandre Leo13, Denelle Pierre13, 14, Enquist Brian15, Fortunel Claire16, Grenié Matthias13, 17, 18, Loiseau Nicolas7, Mahaut Lucie8, 13, Maire Anthony19, Mouillot David7, Violle Cyrille20, 21, 22, Kraft Nathan6
Affiliation(s) 1 : Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire de Physique, Université Grenoble-Alpes, Grenoble, France
2 : W. K. Kellogg Biological Station, Departments of Plant Biology & Integrative Biology, Program in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Michigan State University, Hickory Corners, Michigan, USA
3 : Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford, California, USA
4 : Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Univ. Savoie Mont Blanc, CNRS, LECA - Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine, Grenoble, France
5 : Division of Biological Sciences and Division of Plant Science & Technology, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA
6 : Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA
7 : MARBEC, Univ Montpellier, CNRS, Ifremer, IRD, Montpellier, France
8 : FRB –CESAB, Montpellier, France
9 : Department of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, USA
10 : Department of Biology, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
11 : IFREMER, Unité Halieutique Manche Mer du Nord, Laboratoire Ressources Halieutiques, Boulogne-sur- Mer, France
12 : Department of Biological Sciences, University of Toronto-Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
13 : CEFE, Univ Montpellier, CNRS, EPHE, IRD, Montpellier, France
14 : Biodiversity, Macroecology & Biogeography, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
15 : Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA
16 : AMAP, Université de Montpellier, CIRAD, CNRS, INRAE, IRD, Montpellier, France
17 : German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena- Leipzig Puschstraße 4, Leipzig, Germany
18 : Leipzig University Ritterstraße 26, Leipzig, Germany
19 : EDF R&D, LNHE -Laboratoire National d'Hydraulique et Environnement, Chatou, France
20 : Paläontologisches Institut und Museum, Universität Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
21 : Department of Biosciences, Swansea University, Swansea, UK
22 : Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama, Panama
Source Ecology Letters (1461-023X) (Wiley / Blackwell), 2023-08 , Vol. 26 , N. 8 , P. 1452-1465
DOI 10.1111/ele.14265
WOS© Times Cited 4
Note This is a preprint and has not been peer reviewed. Data may be preliminary.
Keyword(s) coexistence, community assembly, ecological interactions, fitness landscape, functional traits, source-sink dynamics

Recent work has shown that evaluating functional trait distinctiveness, the average trait distance of a species to other species in a community offers promising insights into biodiversity dynamics and ecosystem functioning. However, the ecological mechanisms underlying the emergence and persistence of functionally distinct species are poorly understood. Here, we address the issue by considering a heterogeneous fitness landscape whereby functional dimensions encompass peaks representing trait combinations yielding positive population growth rates in a community. We identify four ecological cases contributing to the emergence and persistence of functionally distinct species. First, environmental heterogeneity or alternative phenotypic designs can drive positive population growth of functionally distinct species. Second, sink populations with negative population growth can deviate from local fitness peaks and be functionally distinct. Third, species found at the margin of the fitness landscape can persist but be functionally distinct. Fourth, biotic interactions (positive or negative) can dynamically alter the fitness landscape. We offer examples of these four cases and guidelines to distinguish between them. In addition to these deterministic processes, we explore how stochastic dispersal limitation can yield functional distinctiveness. Our framework offers a novel perspective on the relationship between fitness landscape heterogeneity and the functional composition of ecological assemblages.

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Munoz François, Klausmeier Christopher, Gaüzère Pierre, Kandlikar Gaurav, Litchman Elena, Mouquet Nicolas, Ostling Annette, Thuiller Wilfried, Algar Adam, Auber Arnaud, Cadotte Marc, Delalandre Leo, Denelle Pierre, Enquist Brian, Fortunel Claire, Grenié Matthias, Loiseau Nicolas, Mahaut Lucie, Maire Anthony, Mouillot David, Violle Cyrille, Kraft Nathan (2023). The ecological causes of functional distinctiveness in communities. Ecology Letters, 26(8), 1452-1465. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :