Empirical modelling of trait selection by partitioning selection into direct selection and selection that is mediated by interspecific interactions

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Christian Damgaard


Trait selection has received considerable attention in the pursuit to understand niche-based community assembly processes and to generate ecological predictions. To further advance the study of trait selection, a conceptual statistical model is presented that outlines and discuss the possibilities of i) estimating the effect of interspecific interactions on traits rather than just testing weather selection has had an effect on the observed trait distributions, ii) discriminating between environmental filtering and niche partitioning processes and estimate the characteristic features and importance of both processes, and iii) predicting the effect of environmental changes and gradients on trait selection. To achieve these goals a number of necessary assumptions have to be specified and these assumptions are discussed and assessed. Simulated plant cover data from a simple uniform environment was successfully fitted to the model and the results indicates that it is possible to partition direct population growth and population growth that is mediated by interspecific interaction. The data requirements of the model are modest, i.e. time series data on plant species abundance and a species trait matrix. Consequently, the model concep...Continue Reading

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