Environmental filtering structures tree functional traits combination and lineages across space in tropical tree assemblages
Environmental filtering consistently shapes the functional and phylogenetic structure of species across space within diverse forests. However, poor descriptions of community functional and lineage distributions across space hamper the accurate understanding of coexistence mechanisms. We combined environmental variables and geographic space to explore how traits and lineages are filtered by environmental factors using extended RLQ and fourth-corner analyses across different spatial scales. The dispersion patterns of traits and lineages were also examined in a 20-ha tropical rainforest dynamics plot in southwest China. We found that environmental filtering was detected across all spatial scales except the largest scale (100 × 100 m). Generally, the associations between functional traits and environmental variables were more or less consistent across spatial scales. Species with high resource acquisition-related traits were associated with the resource-rich part of the plot across the different spatial scales, whereas resource-conserving functional traits were distributed in limited-resource environments. Furthermore, we found phylogenetic and functional clustering at all spatial scales. Similar functional strategies were also detected among distantly related species, suggesting that phylogenetic distance is not necessarily a proxy for functional distance. In summary, environmental filtering considerably structured the trait and lineage assemblages in this species-rich tropical rainforest.