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Volume 100, Issue 4 e02636
Article

Dominant tree species drive beta diversity patterns in western Amazonia

Frederick C. Draper

Corresponding Author

Frederick C. Draper

Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, Arizona State University, 975 S. Myrtle Ave Tempe, Arizona, 85281 USA

Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science, 260 Panama Street, Stanford, California, 94305 USA

International Center for Tropical Botany, Florida International University, 4013 South Douglas Road, Miami, Florida, 33133 USA

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Gregory P. Asner

Gregory P. Asner

Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, Arizona State University, 975 S. Myrtle Ave Tempe, Arizona, 85281 USA

Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science, 260 Panama Street, Stanford, California, 94305 USA

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Eurídice N. Honorio Coronado

Eurídice N. Honorio Coronado

Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonía Peruana, Av. Quiñones 0784, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru

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Timothy R. Baker

Timothy R. Baker

School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT United Kingdom

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Roosevelt García-Villacorta

Roosevelt García-Villacorta

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, E145 Corson Hall, Ithaca, New york, 14853 USA

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Nigel C. A. Pitman

Nigel C. A. Pitman

Keller Science Action Center, The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, Illinois, 60605 USA

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Paul V. A. Fine

Paul V. A. Fine

Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, 1005 Valley Life Sciences Building #3140 Berkeley, California, 94720 USA

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Oliver L. Phillips

Oliver L. Phillips

School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT United Kingdom

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Ricardo Zárate Gómez

Ricardo Zárate Gómez

Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonía Peruana, Av. Quiñones 0784, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru

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Carlos A. Amasifuén Guerra

Carlos A. Amasifuén Guerra

Facultad de Biología, Universidad Nacional de la Amazonía Peruana, Sargento Lores 385, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru

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Manuel Flores Arévalo

Manuel Flores Arévalo

Facultad de Biología, Universidad Nacional de la Amazonía Peruana, Sargento Lores 385, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru

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Rodolfo Vásquez Martínez

Rodolfo Vásquez Martínez

Jardín Botanico de Missouri, Prolongación Bolognesi Lote 6, Oxapampa, Pasco, Peru

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Roel J. W. Brienen

Roel J. W. Brienen

School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT United Kingdom

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Abel Monteagudo-Mendoza

Abel Monteagudo-Mendoza

Jardín Botanico de Missouri, Prolongación Bolognesi Lote 6, Oxapampa, Pasco, Peru

Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco, Av. de La Cultura 773, Cusco, 08000 Peru

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Luis A. Torres Montenegro

Luis A. Torres Montenegro

Facultad de Biología, Universidad Nacional de la Amazonía Peruana, Sargento Lores 385, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru

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Elvis Valderrama Sandoval

Elvis Valderrama Sandoval

Facultad de Biología, Universidad Nacional de la Amazonía Peruana, Sargento Lores 385, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru

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Katherine H. Roucoux

Katherine H. Roucoux

School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St. Andrews, North Street, St. Andrews, KY16 9AL United Kingdom

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Fredy R. Ramírez Arévalo

Fredy R. Ramírez Arévalo

Facultad de Ciencias Forestales, Universidad Nacional de la Amazonía Peruana, Sargento Lores 385, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru

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Ítalo Mesones Acuy

Ítalo Mesones Acuy

Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, 1005 Valley Life Sciences Building #3140 Berkeley, California, 94720 USA

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Jhon Del Aguila Pasquel

Jhon Del Aguila Pasquel

Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonía Peruana, Av. Quiñones 0784, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru

School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, Michigan, 49931 USA

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Ximena Tagle Casapia

Ximena Tagle Casapia

Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonía Peruana, Av. Quiñones 0784, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru

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Gerardo Flores Llampazo

Gerardo Flores Llampazo

Universidad Nacional Jorge Basadre Grohmann, Avenidad Miraflores S/N, Tacna, 23000 Peru

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Massiel Corrales Medina

Massiel Corrales Medina

Universidad Nacional de San Agustín de Arequipa, Santa Catalina 117, Arequipa, 04000 Peru

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José Reyna Huaymacari

José Reyna Huaymacari

Facultad de Biología, Universidad Nacional de la Amazonía Peruana, Sargento Lores 385, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru

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Christopher Baraloto

Christopher Baraloto

International Center for Tropical Botany, Florida International University, 4013 South Douglas Road, Miami, Florida, 33133 USA

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First published: 29 January 2019
Citations: 22
Corresponding Editor: Daniel B. Metcalfe.

Abstract

The forests of western Amazonia are among the most diverse tree communities on Earth, yet this exceptional diversity is distributed highly unevenly within and among communities. In particular, a small number of dominant species account for the majority of individuals, whereas the large majority of species are locally and regionally extremely scarce. By definition, dominant species contribute little to local species richness (alpha diversity), yet the importance of dominant species in structuring patterns of spatial floristic turnover (beta diversity) has not been investigated. Here, using a network of 207 forest inventory plots, we explore the role of dominant species in determining regional patterns of beta diversity (community-level floristic turnover and distance-decay relationships) across a range of habitat types in northern lowland Peru. Of the 2,031 recorded species in our data set, only 99 of them accounted for 50% of individuals. Using these 99 species, it was possible to reconstruct the overall features of regional beta diversity patterns, including the location and dispersion of habitat types in multivariate space, and distance-decay relationships. In fact, our analysis demonstrated that regional patterns of beta diversity were better maintained by the 99 dominant species than by the 1,932 others, whether quantified using species-abundance data or species presence–absence data. Our results reveal that dominant species are normally common only in a single forest type. Therefore, dominant species play a key role in structuring western Amazonian tree communities, which in turn has important implications, both practically for designing effective protected areas, and more generally for understanding the determinants of beta diversity patterns.