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A taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic perspective on the community assembly of passerine birds along an elevational gradient in southwest China

First Author: He XL

Integrating multiple facets of biodiversity to describe spatial and temporal distribution patterns is one way of revealing the mechanisms driving community assembly. We assessed the species, functional, and phylogenetic composition and structure of passerine
bird communities along an elevational gradient both in wintering and breeding seasons in the Ailao Mountains, southwest China, in order to identify the dominant ecological processes structuring the communities and how these processes change with elevation and season. Our research confirms that the highest taxonomic diversity, and distinct community composition, was found in the moist evergreen broadleaf forest at high elevation in both seasons. Environmental filtering was the dominant force at high elevations with relatively cold and wet climatic conditions, while the observed value of mean pairwise functional and phylogenetic distances of low elevation was constantly higher than expectation in two seasons, suggested interspecific competition could play the key role at low elevations, perhaps because of relative rich resource result from complex vegetation structure and human-induced disturbance. Across all elevations, there was a trend of decreasing intensity of environmental filtering whereas increasing interspecific competition from wintering season to breeding season. This was likely due to the increased resource availability but reproduction-associated competition in the summer months. In general, there is a clear justification for conservation efforts to protect entire elevational gradients in the Ailao Mountains, given the distinct taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic compositions and also elevational migration pattern in passerine bird communities.

Contact the author: Lin LX
Page Number: 2712–2720
Issue: 2018
Impact Factor: 2.440
Authors units:
PubYear: 2018 Feb
Volume: 8
Publication Name: Ecology and Evolution
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