The role of recruitment and dispersal limitation in tree community assembly in Amazonian forests

Washington L. Oliveira, Marcelo B. Medeiros*, Marcelo F. Simon, John Hay, Hans ter Steege

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Background: Species composition of plant communities is shaped by the interplay between dispersal limitation, environmental filters and stochastic events.

    Aims: The aim of this work was to investigate the effects of dispersal limitation and environmental filtering on tree recruitment. To accomplish this, we employed the unified neutral theory of biodiversity and biogeography to examine migration within the metacommunity, defined as a set of interacting local communities linked by the dispersal of multiple potentially interacting species.

    Methods: We sampled 12,975 individuals with dbh ≥ 1 cm in 26 1-ha permanent plots, including habitats of terra firme, transitional forests, várzea and campinarana, on the upper Madeira River, Brazilian Amazon.

    Results: Campinarana drew individuals from outside the metacommunity species pool at a mean probability of recruitment of 0.06, a much lower probability than terra firme (0.31), transitional (0.21) and várzea forests (0.22). Environmental variables, such as water table depth, soil texture and fertility, were related to differences in community assembly.

    Conclusions: Species abundance distribution and diversity patterns of plant assemblages in a large river landscape in the Amazon highlight the importance of environmental heterogeneity that conditions beta-diversity. The high variation in recruitment probabilities from the metacommunity species pool to local communities suggests high habitat variability in the process of maintaining patterns of local diversity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    Number of pages12
    JournalPlant Ecology and Diversity
    Issue number1
    Early online date18 May 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    This article is part of WLO doctoral thesis (University of Brasília), with support from the National Council of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq) by a scholarship [GM/GD 140353/2014-3] and a Sandwich Doctorate scholarship [SWE 234262/2014-1]. Embrapa Cenargen provided logistic support to field work and Energia Sustentável do Brasil (ESBR), Fundação Eliseu Alves and Fundação Arthur Bernardes also provided financial support.

    FundersFunder number
    Embrapa Cenargen
    Fundação Eliseu Alves
    Sandwich Doctorate scholarship
    Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e TecnológicoGM/GD 140353/2014-3, SWE 234262/2014-1
    Fundação Arthur Bernardes


      • Environmental filtering
      • metacommunity
      • neutral models
      • tropical rain forest
      • species abundance


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