Phylogenetic clustering increases with succession for lianas in a Chinese tropical montane rain forest
Roeder M; McLeish M M; Beckschäfer P; de Blécourt M; Paudel E
Previous research found that phylogenetic clustering increased with disturbance for tropical trees suggesting that community assembly is mainly influenced by abiotic factors during early succession. Lianas are an important additional component of tropical forests but their phylogenetic community structure has never been investigated. Unlike tropical trees liana abundance is often high in disturbed forests and diversity can peak in old secondary forest. Therefore phylogenetic structure along a disturbance gradient might also differ from tropical tree communities. Here we determined phylogenetic community structure of lianas along a disturbance gradient in a tropical montane forest in China using the net relatedness index (NRI) from 100 equivalent phylogenies with varying branch length that were constructed using DNA-barcode sequences. Three additional phylogenetic indices were also considered for comparison. When NRI was used as index phylogenetic clustering of liana communities decreased with decreasing tree basal area suggesting that liana competitive interactions dominate during early succession which is in contrast to the pattern reported for trees. Liana communities in mature forests on the other hand were phylogenetic clustered which could be caused by dispersal limitation and/or environmental filtering. The three additional phylogenetic indices identified different sometimes\r\ncontradicting predictors of phylogenetic community structure indicating that caution is needed when generalizing interpretations of studies based on a single phylogenetic community structure index. Our study provides a more nuanced picture of non-random assembly along disturbance gradients by focusing on a non-tree forest component.