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Topography shapes the local coexistence of tree species within species complexes of Neotropical forests

Schmitt S., Tysklind N., Derroire G., Heuertz M., Herault B.. 2021. Oecologia, 196 : p. 389-398.

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-021-04939-2

Forest inventories in Amazonia include around 5000 described tree species belonging to more than 800 genera. Numerous species-rich genera share genetic variation among species because of recent speciation and/or recurrent hybridisation, forming species complexes. Despite the key role that tree species complexes play in understanding Neotropical diversification, and their need to exploit a diversity of niches, little is known about the mechanisms that allow local coexistence of tree species complexes and their species in sympatry. In this study, we explored the fine-scale distribution of five tree species complexes and 22 species within these complexes. Combining forest inventories, botanical determination, and LiDAR-derived topographic data over 120 ha of permanent plots in French Guiana, we used a Bayesian modelling framework to test the role of fine-scale topographic wetness and tree neighbourhood on the occurrence of species complexes and the relative distribution of species within complexes. Species complexes of Neotropical trees were widely spread across the topographic wetness gradient at the local scale. Species within complexes showed pervasive niche differentiation along with topographic wetness and competition gradients. Similar patterns of species-specific habitat preferences were observed within several species complexes: species more tolerant to competition for resources grow in drier and less fertile plateaus and slopes. If supported by partial reproductive isolation of species and adaptive introgression at the species complex level, our results suggest that both species-specific habitat specialisation within species complexes and the broad ecological distribution of species complexes might explain the success of these species complexes at the regional scale.

Mots-clés : population végétale; topographie; région néotropicale; distribution des populations; variation génétique; enquête forestière; guyane française; france

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