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Geographical shifts in the successional dynamics of inland dune shrub communities
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  • Sergio Chozas,
  • Rosa Chefaoui,
  • Ana Margarida Santos,
  • Otilia Correia,
  • Joaquín Hortal
Sergio Chozas
Centro de Ecologia Evolução e Alterações Ambientais

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Rosa Chefaoui
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos
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Ana Margarida Santos
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid Departamento de Biología
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Otilia Correia
Centro de Ecologia Evolução e Alterações Ambientais
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Joaquín Hortal
Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales
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Aim: Species’ environmental requirements and large-scale spatial and evolutionary processes are known to determine the structure and composition of local communities. However, ecological interactions and historical processes also have major effects on community assembly at landscape and local scales. In this work we evaluate whether two xerophytic shrub communities follow fixed ecological assembly dynamics throughout large geographical extents, or their composition is rather driven by species individualistic responses to environmental and macroecological constraints. Location: SW Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain) Taxa: Stauracanthus genistoides agg. and Ulex australis agg (Fabaceae). Methods:Inland dune xerophytic shrub communities were sampled in 95 plots distributed within their potential area of occurrence. Then, we described the main gradients of vegetation composition and assess the relevance of biotic interactions. We also characterized the habitat suitability of the dominant species, S. genistoides and U. australis, to map the potential distribution of the xerophytic shrub communities. Finally, to identify the relative importance of each factor driving changes in community composition, we examined the relationships between the vegetation gradients and a broad set of explanatory variables. Results: Our results show that xerophytic shrubs follow uniform successional patterns throughout the whole geographical area, but also that these communities respond differently to the main environmental gradients in each region. Soil organic matter is the main determinant of community variations in the northern regions, Setúbal Peninsula and Comporta, while in the South/South-Western region most of the variation between both types of communities is explained by temperature seasonality. Main conclusions: The relative importance of the main factors causing community-level responses varies according to regional processes and the suitability of the environmental conditions for the dominant species in these communities. These responses are also determined by intrinsic community mechanisms that result in a high degree of similarity in the gradient-driven community stages in different regions.
24 Sep 2022Submission Checks Completed
24 Sep 2022Assigned to Editor
24 Sep 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
23 Oct 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
19 Jan 20231st Revision Received
23 Jan 2023Submission Checks Completed
23 Jan 2023Assigned to Editor
23 Jan 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
30 Jan 2023Editorial Decision: Accept