Munoz F, Klausmeier CA, Gauzere P, Kandlikar PG, Litchman E, Mouquet N, Ostling A, Thuiller W, Algar AC, Auber A, Cadotte MW, Delalandre L, Denelle P, Enquist BJ, Fortunel C, Grenie M, Loiseau N, Mahaut L, Maire A, Mouillot D, Pimiento C, Violle C, and Kraft NJB (2023).

Ecology Letters, DOI:10.1111 ele.14265

Key message : We consider a heterogeneous fitness landscape whereby functional dimensions encompass peaks representing trait combinations yielding positive population growth rates in a community. We identify four ecological cases contributing to the emergence and persistence of functionally distinct species. First, environmental heterogeneity can drive positive population growth of functionally distinct species. Second, sink populations with negative population growth can deviate from local fitness peaks and be functionally distinct. Third, species found at the margin of the fitness landscape can persist but be functionally distinct. Fourth, biotic interactions can dynamically alter the fitness landscape. Our framework offers a novel perspective on the relationship between fitness landscape heterogeneity and the functional composition of ecological assemblages.

Influence of abiotic environment on functional distinctiveness through the intrinsic fitness landscape. Functional distinctiveness of a species in a community can be calculated as the mean functional distance to all the other species in the community (a). The intrinsic fitness landscape can be constructed by representing how intrinsic growth varies with traits in the local environment (b). Shaded areas on the peaks represent cases where intrinsic growth rates are positive (r > 0). Combining these perspectives, we can see that species (shown as points) may be functionally distinct for various reasons within the same community (c): species 1 occupies a distinct peak in a heterogeneous fitness landscape; species 2 represents a spatial or temporal sink population; species 3 is found at the margin of the main fitness peak.

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OTHER TOPICS: Aesthetics of Biodiversity, Biodiversity & Ecosystem Functioning, Biogeography, Macroecology & Ecophylogenetics, Experimental Evolution, Functional Biogeography, Functional Rarity, Metacommunities, Metaecosystems, Reviews and Synthesis, Trophic Biogeography & Metaweb