Bryophyte assembly rules across scales

  • Articles in SCI Journals
  • Nov, 2023

Monteiro, J., Vieira, C. & Branquinho, C. (2023) Bryophyte assembly rules across scales.

Journal of Ecology, 111(7), 1531-1544. DOI:10.1111/1365-2745.14117 (IF2022 5,5; Q1 Ecology)
  1. Understanding how species assemble into communities is a central issue in community ecology. So far, most studies have focused on the assembly mechanisms of vascular plant communities, while the role of deterministic (environmental filtering and biotic interactions) and stochastic (e.g. dispersal limitation) processes structuring bryophyte assemblages remains poorly understood.
  2. To evaluate how different assembly processes shape bryophyte communities in mountain streams, we examined functional trait patterns across spatial scales and along environmental gradients. To do so, we sampled 754 microhabitat plots (0.25 m2) nested within 165 sites (100-m long stream segments) and 13 sub-basins, located in the northwest and central-west of Portugal. At each spatial scale, observed functional diversity indices (Functional Richness and Rao's quadratic entropy) were compared to random expectations derived from null models, followed by the analysis of changes in functional trait patterns along environmental gradients by fitting a series of generalized additive mixed models.
  3. At local scales (site and microhabitat plot), coexisting species tended to be more functionally similar than expected, suggesting the prevalence of environmental filtering effects. In contrast, no significant deviations from random expectations were detected at the broadest spatial scale (sub-basin), indicating the prevalence of stochastic processes. We found contrasting assembly processes along environmental gradients: environmental filtering prevailed in stressful environments, while competitive interactions were more important in favourable conditions.
  4. Synthesis. Our results highlight the role of environmental filtering in bryophyte community assembly at fine spatial scales, emphasizing the importance of measuring environmental conditions at the same spatial scales where biotic interactions take place. In line with the stress-dominance hypothesis, the relative importance of environmental filtering increased with abiotic stress. Thus, analysing functional trait patterns across different spatial scales and environmental gradients may contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying community assembly.


  • Bryophyte assembly rules across scales Cristina Branquinho Ecology of Environmental Change - eChanges
  • Bryophyte assembly rules across scales Juliana Mafalda Polido Monteiro Ecology of Environmental Change - eChanges