Biodiv Sci ›› 2014, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (4): 438-448.DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2014.14011

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Phylogenetic community structure of subtropical forests along elevational gradients in Ailao Mountains of southwest China

Mengmeng Lu1,2,*, Xiaocui Huang1,2,*, Xiuqin Ci1,2, Guoping Yang1, Jie Li1,**()   

  1. 1. Laboratory of Plant Phylogenetics and Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650223
    2. University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
  • Received:2014-01-10 Accepted:2014-05-09 Online:2014-07-20 Published:2014-07-24
  • Contact: Lu Mengmeng,Huang Xiaocui,Li Jie

Abstract:

Understanding the maintenance of biodiversity and community assembly is a central issue in community ecology. Here, we examined patterns of the community phylogenetic structure of subtropical forests along an elevational gradient in the Ailao Mountains of southwest China. We surveyed all trees with diameter at breast height ≥1 cm in 16 plots, and constructed a community phylogeny from DNA barcode sequence data with a constraint tree based on Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG) III. We found that the community structure changed from phylogenetically clustered to phylogenetically overdispersed with increasing elevation. Co-occurring trees at low-elevation communities tended to be more closely related than expected by chance, implying that these communities were structured primarily by habitat filtering. Clustered and over-dispersed phylogenetic compositions were showed in mid-elevation communities, suggesting that these communities are structured by habitat filtering or competitive exclusion. At high-elevation sites, NRI (Net Relatedness Index) showed clustering, but NTI (Nearest Taxon Index) showed randomness or over-dispersion. We therefore interpreted our results with caution. It is possible that convergent evolution may be occurred independently in distantly related lineages under higher environmental stress at high elevations. Taken together, the results of our study provide insight into the potential role of elevational gradients in shaping community composition and phylogenetic diversity.

Key words: community phylogeny, DNA barcoding, elevational gradient, Ailao Mountains