Dispersal ability, trophic position and body size mediate species turnover processes: Insights from a multi-taxa and multi-scale approach

Soyeon Bae, Lea Heidrich, Shaun R. Levick, Martin M. Gossner, Sebastian Seibold, Wolfgang W. Weisser, Paul Magdon, Alla Serebryanyk, Claus Bässler, Deborah Schäfer, Ernst Detlef Schulze, Inken Doerfler, Jörg Müller, Kirsten Jung, Marco Heurich, Markus Fischer, Nicolas Roth, Peter Schall, Steffen Boch, Stephan WöllauerSwen C. Renner, Jörg Müller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Aim: Despite increasing interest in β-diversity, that is the spatial and temporal turnover of species, the mechanisms underlying species turnover at different spatial scales are not fully understood, although they likely differ among different functional groups. We investigated the relative importance of dispersal limitations and the environmental filtering caused by vegetation for local, multi-taxa forest communities differing in their dispersal ability, trophic position and body size. Location: Temperate forests in five regions across Germany. Methods: In the inter-region analysis, the independent and shared effects of the regional spatial structure (regional species pool), landscape spatial structure (dispersal limitation) and environmental factors on species turnover were quantified with a 1-ha grain across 11 functional groups in up to 495 plots by variation partitioning. In the intra-region analysis, the relative importance of three environmental factors related to vegetation (herb and tree layer composition and forest physiognomy) and spatial structure for species turnover was determined. Results: In the inter-region analysis, over half of the explained variation in community composition (23% of the total explained 35%) was explained by the shared effects of several factors, indicative of spatially structured environmental filtering. Among the independent effects, environmental factors were the strongest on average over 11 groups, but the importance of landscape spatial structure increased for less dispersive functional groups. In the intra-region analysis, the independent effect of plant species composition had a stronger influence on species turnover than forest physiognomy, but the relative importance of the latter increased with increasing trophic position and body size. Main conclusions: Our study revealed that the mechanisms structuring assemblage composition are associated with the traits of functional groups. Hence, conservation frameworks targeting biodiversity of multiple groups should cover both environmental and biogeographical gradients. Within regions, forest management can enhance β-diversity particularly by diversifying tree species composition and forest physiognomy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-453
Number of pages15
JournalDiversity and Distributions
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • body size
  • dispersal ability
  • environmental filtering
  • forest physiognomy
  • neutral processes
  • plant composition
  • regional species pool
  • species turnover
  • trophic position
  • β-diversity


Dive into the research topics of 'Dispersal ability, trophic position and body size mediate species turnover processes: Insights from a multi-taxa and multi-scale approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this