We test for evidence of the Tropical Niche Conservatism or the Out of The Tropics hypotheses in structuring patterns of tree community composition along a 2000 + meter elevational gradient in the northern tropical Andes. By collecting and integrating data on the presence–absence of tree species within plots with phylogenetic information, we analyzed the following: (a) patterns of phylogenetic dispersion and species diversity along the elevational gradient based on indexes of net relatedness, nearest taxon relatedness, and species richness (α-diversity); and (b) the replacement of lineages along the gradient using the PhyloSorensen metric (β-diversity). More specifically, we established 20 0.25-ha permanent tree inventory plots between 750 and 2,802 m asl where all individuals with diameter at breast height (DBH) ≥ 10 cm were measured and identified. We then used a series of linear models to test for changes in α and β diversity between plots in relation to elevation. Neither the net relatedness index nor the nearest taxon index showed a significant relationship with elevation. However, there was greater phylogenetic overdispersion at intermediate elevations; this likely reflects the mixing of species with contrasting origins from tropical and temperate lineages. β-diversity between plots was negatively related to the corresponding difference in elevation, indicating that closely related lineages occupy similar ranges of elevation and temperature. We conclude that the immigration of lineages from extra-tropical regions has significant effects in determining the phylogenetic structure of tree communities in tropical Andean forests. Abstract in Spanish is available with online material.
- out of the tropics
- phylogenetic replacement
- tropical niche conservatism
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics