SPATIODIVERSITY: Towards a Unified Spatial Theory of Biodiversity

tropical forest
Tropical forest in Fushan, Taiwan. Photo: T. Wiegand

A central element of the department’s research, fostered by the ERC advanced grant SPATIODIVERSITY, is to advance in a persistent challenge in contemporary ecology; to understand the relative importance of processes and factors that govern the composition and dynamics of species-rich communities such as tropical forests. Advances in this issue have important implications for efforts to protect terrestrial biodiversity from climate and land use change. Our novel contribution to this question is use the large amount of information on spatial patterns which is contained in the fully mapped (20-50ha) mega-plots of forests by using techniques of spatial statistics, last generation dynamic vegetation models and huge computational power. This information extraction involves three tasks:

Spatial pattern analysis

The goal is to quantify the manifold spatial patterns at fully mapped vegetation plots with special attention to an assessment of the degree of non-random spatial structures in the uni-, bi-, and multivariate species interactions (Wiegand et al. 2009, 2012). This involved developments of novel statistical methods of spatial point pattern analysis (Wiegand & Moloney 2014), especially for multivariate analysis to enable quantification of the complex spatial structures in species, functional and phylogenetic diversity (Wang et al. 2016, 2015; Punchi-Manage 2015; Shen et al. 2013).
Spatial Point Pattern Analysis

Forest simulation models

The goal is to develop a spectrum of individual-based vegetation dynamic simulation models, ranging from simple neutral models (were all species are functionally equivalent; May et al. 2015) to complex process based models of the FORMIND family (Kazmierczak et al. 2014; Hartig et al. 2014). This involved development of spatially-explicit extensions of neutral models and of the FORMIND model.
Forests and Grassland Dynamics

Model selection based on spatial patterns

Finally, the spatial patterns generated by the vegetation simulation models developed in task 2 were systematically compared with the patterns quantified in task 1 to identify the most parsimonious model(s) that account simultaneously for all observed patterns (May et al. 2015, 2016). This involved development of novel techniques of inverse parameterization and model selection (statistical inference) of stochastic simulation models (Hartig et al. 2011, 2014; Lehmann and Huth 2015).

ERC project

A key result emerging from the combined analyses of forest simulation models and spatial pattern analysis in the ERC project is that much simpler models than anticipated do already provide a correct characterization of the complex spatial structure and several additional structural properties of hyperdiverse forests (May et al. 2015, 2016). This result has important consequences for the theoretical foundation of ecology.
ERC project

ERC workshop on Dynamics and assembly of species rich communities and their spatial structure

The main goal of this workshop was the discuss ways of quantifying multivariate spatial patterns in fully stem-mapped vegetation plots and its importance of these patterns for community assembly and dynamics.

sDiv workshop sNiche

The high species richness of communities such as tropical forests has challenged coexistence theory for decades. We synthesize recent coexistence theories by focusing on the role of stochasticity in promoting biodiversity. Because of variability in the biotic neighborhood of individuals, the interactions between species may in a sense become “diluted” and less predictable and therefore prevent particular species from outcompeting others. We test the new stochastic coexistence theory using spatial analysis of forest plots and by conducting fully controlled biodiversity simulation experiments.
sDiv workshop sNiche

sNiche workshop
First sNiche workshop, 18-20 01. 2016 at iDiv, Leipzig. Participants from left to right: Jonathan Chase, Lauren Sullivan, Stan Harpole, Juliano Sarmento Cabral, Tiffany Knight, Sebastian Lehmann, Karin Frank, Chengjin Chu, Felix May, Thorsten Wiegand, Stefan Kupers, Grigoris Kylafis, Janneke Hille-Ris Lambers, Margie Mayfield, Lauren Shoemaker, Aubrie James, Karen Abbott, Nathan Kraft, Xugao Wang, Sean Satterlee, Andreas Huth

Selected Publications

  • Bender, I.M.A., Kissling, W.D., Blendinger, P.G., Böhning-Gaese, K., Hensen, I., Kühn, I., Muñoz, M.C., Neuschulz, E.L., Nowak, L., Quitián, M., Saavedra, F., Santillán, V., Töpfer, T., Wiegand, T., Dehling, D.M., Schleuning, M., (2018):
    Morphological trait matching shapes plant-frugivore networks across the Andes
    Ecography 41 (11), 1910 - 1919
    final draft (pdf)
  • Fedriani, J.M., Wiegand, T., Ayllón, D., Palomares, F., Suárez-Esteban, A., Grimm, V., (2018):
    Assisting seed dispersers to restore oldfields: An individual-based model of the interactions among badgers, foxes and Iberian pear trees
    J. Appl. Ecol. 55 (2), 600 - 611
    full text (url)
  • Taubert, F., Fischer, R., Groeneveld, J., Lehmann, S., Müller, M.S., Rödig, E., Wiegand, T., Huth, A., (2018):
    Global patterns of tropical forest fragmentation
    Nature 554 (7693), 519 - 522
    full text (url)
  • Wang, X., Wiegand, T., Anderson-Teixeira, K.-J., Bourg, N.A., Hao, Z., Howe, R., Jin, G., Orwig, D.A., Spasojevic, M.J., Wang, S., Wolf, A., Myers, J.A., (2018):
    Ecological drivers of spatial community dissimilarity, species replacement and species nestedness across temperate forests
    Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 27 (5), 581 - 592
    full text (url)
  • Brinck, K., Fischer, R., Groeneveld, J., Lehmann, S., Dantas de Paula, M., Pütz, S., Sexton, J.O., Song, D., Huth, A., (2017):
    High resolution analysis of tropical forest fragmentation and its impact on the global carbon cycle
    Nat. Commun. 8 , art. 14855
    full text (url)
  • García-Cervigón, A.I., Velázquez, E., Wiegand, T., Escudero, A., Olano, J.M., (2017):
    Colonization in Mediterranean old-fields: the role of dispersal and plant–plant interactions
    J. Veg. Sci. 28 (3), 627 - 638
    full text (url)
  • Murphy, S.J., Wiegand, T., Comita, L.S., (2017):
    Distance-dependent seedling mortality and long-term spacing dynamics in a neotropical forest community
    Ecol. Lett. 20 (11), 1469 - 1478
    full text (url)
  • Wiegand, T., May, F., Kazmierczak, M., Huth, A., (2017):
    What drives the spatial distribution and dynamics of local species richness in tropical forest?
    Proc. R. Soc. B-Biol. Sci. 284 (1863), art. 20171503
    full text (url)
  • Wiegand, T., Uriarte, M., Kraft, N.J.B., Shen, G., Wang, X., He, F., (2017):
    Spatially explicit metrics of species diversity, functional diversity, and phylogenetic diversity: Insights into plant community assembly processes
    Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 48 , 329 - 351
    full text (url)
  • Fischer, R., Bohn, F., Dantas de Paula, M., Dislich, C., Groeneveld, J., Gutiérrez, A.G., Kazmierczak, M., Knapp, N., Lehmann, S., Paulick, S., Pütz, S., Rödig, E., Taubert, F., Köhler, P., Huth, A., (2016):
    Lessons learned from applying a forest gap model to understand ecosystem and carbon dynamics of complex tropical forests
    Ecol. Model. 326 , 124 - 133
    full text (url)
  • Jácome-Flores, M.E., Delibes, M., Wiegand, T., Fedriani, J.M., (2016):
    Spatial patterns of an endemic Mediterranean palm recolonizing old fields
    Ecol. Evol. 6 (23), 8556 - 8568
    full text (url)
  • Kazmierczak, M., Backmann, P., Fedriani, J.M., Fischer, R., Hartmann, A.K., Huth, A., May, F., Müller, M.S., Taubert, F., Grimm, V., Groeneveld, J., (2016):
    Monodominance in tropical forests: modelling reveals emerging clusters and phase transitions
    J. R. Soc. Interface 13 (117), art. 0123
    full text (url)
  • Martínez Cano, I., González Taboada, F., Naves, J., Fernández-Gil, A., Wiegand, T., (2016):
    Decline and recovery of a large carnivore: environmental change and long-term trends in an endangered brown bear population
    Proc. R. Soc. B-Biol. Sci. 283 (1843), art. 20161832
    full text (url)
  • May, F., Wiegand, T., Lehmann, S., Huth, A., (2016):
    Do abundance distributions and species aggregation correctly predict macroecological biodiversity patterns in tropical forests?
    Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 25 (5), 575 - 585
    full text (url)
  • Morán–López, T., Wiegand, T., Morales, J.M., Valladares, F., Díaz, M., (2016):
    Predicting forest management effects on oak–rodent mutualisms
    Oikos 125 (10), 1445 - 1457
    full text (url)
  • Velázquez, E., Kazmierczak, M., Wiegand, T., (2016):
    Spatial patterns of sapling mortality in a moist tropical forest: consistency with total density-dependent effects
    Oikos 125 (6), 872 - 882
    full text (url)
  • Velázquez, E., Martínez, I., Getzin, S., Moloney, K.A., Wiegand, T., (2016):
    An evaluation of the state of spatial point pattern analysis in ecology
    Ecography 39 (11), 1042 - 1055
    full text (url)
  • Wang, X., Wiegand, T., Kraft, N.J.B., Swenson, N.G., Davies, S.J., Hao, Z., Howe, R., Lin, Y., Ma, K., Mi, X., Su, S.-H., Sun, I.-F., Wolf, A., (2016):
    Stochastic dilution effects weaken deterministic effects of niche-based processes in species rich forests
    Ecology 97 (2), 347 - 360
    full text (url)
  • Waud, M., Wiegand, T., Brys, R., Lievens, B., Jacquemyn, H., (2016):
    Nonrandom seedling establishment corresponds with distance-dependent decline in mycorrhizal abundance in two terrestrial orchids
    New Phytol. 211 (1), 255 - 264
    full text (url)
  • Wiegand, T., Grabarnik, P., Stoyan, D., (2016):
    Envelope tests for spatial point patterns with and without simulation
    Ecosphere 7 (6), e01365
    full text (url)
  • Wills, C., Harms, K.E., Wiegand, T., Punchi-Manage, R., Gilbert, G.S., Erickson, D., Kress, W.J., Hubbell, S.P., Gunatilleke, C.V.S., Gunatilleke, I.A.U.N., (2016):
    Persistence of neighborhood demographic influences over long phylogenetic distances may help drive post-speciation adaptation in tropical forests
    PLOS One 11 (6), e0156913
    full text (url)
  • Lehmann, S., Huth, A., (2015):
    Fast calibration of a dynamic vegetation model with minimum observation data
    Ecol. Model. 301 , 98 - 105
    full text (url)
  • May, F., Huth, A., Wiegand, T., (2015):
    Moving beyond abundance distributions: neutral theory and spatial patterns in a tropical forest
    Proc. R. Soc. B-Biol. Sci. 282 (1802), art. 20141657
    full text (url)
  • Punchi-Manage, R., Wiegand, T., Wiegand, K., Getzin, S., Huth, A., Gunatilleke, C.V.S., Gunatilleke, I.A.U.N., (2015):
    Neighborhood diversity of large trees shows independent species patterns in a mixed dipterocarp forest in Sri Lanka
    Ecology 96 (7), 1823 - 1834
    full text (url)
  • Taubert, F., Jahn, M.W., Dobner, H.-J., Wiegand, T., Huth, A., (2015):
    The structure of tropical forests and sphere packings
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112 (49), 15125 - 15129
    full text (url)
  • Wang, X., Wiegand, T., Swenson, N.G., Wolf, A.T., Howe, R.W., Hao, Z., Lin, F., Ye, J., Yuan, Z., (2015):
    Mechanisms underlying local functional and phylogenetic beta diversity in two temperate forests
    Ecology 96 (4), 1062 - 1073
    full text (url)
  • Getzin, S., Wiegand, T., Hubbell, S.P., (2014):
    Stochastically driven adult–recruit associations of tree species on Barro Colorado Island
    Proc. R. Soc. B-Biol. Sci. 281 (1790), art. 20140922
    full text (url)
  • Hartig, F., Dislich, C., Wiegand, T., Huth, A., (2014):
    Technical note: approximate Bayesian parameterization of a process-based tropical forest model
    Biogeosciences 11 , 1261 - 1272
    full text (url)
  • Kazmierczak, M., Wiegand, T., Huth, A., (2014):
    A neutral vs. non-neutral parametrizations of a physiological forest gap model
    Ecol. Model. 288 , 94 - 102
    full text (url)
  • Wiegand, T., Moloney, K.A., (2014):
    Handbook of spatial point-pattern analysis in ecology
    Chapman & Hall / CRDC applied environmental statistics 9
    CRC Press / Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton, FL, 510 pp.
  • Jeltsch, F., Bonte, D., Pe'er, G., Reineking, B., Leimgruber, P., Balkenhol, N., Schröder, B., Buchmann, C.M., Mueller, T., Blaum, N., Zurell, D., Böhning-Gaese, K., Wiegand, T., Eccard, J.A., Hofer, H., Reeg, J., Eggers, U., Bauer, S., (2013):
    Integrating movement ecology with biodiversity research - exploring new avenues to address spatiotemporal biodiversity dynamics
    Mov. Ecol. 1 , art. 6
    full text (url)
  • Shen, G., Wiegand, T., Mi, X., He, F., (2013):
    Quantifying spatial phylogenetic structures of fully stem-mapped plant communities
    Methods Ecol. Evol. 4 (12), 1132 - 1141
    full text (url)
  • Wiegand, T., He, F., Hubbell, S.P., (2013):
    A systematic comparison of summary characteristics for quantifying point patterns in ecology
    Ecography 36 (1), 92 - 103
    full text (url)
  • Wiegand, T., Huth, A., Getzin, S., Wang, X., Hao, Z., Gunatilleke, C.V.S., Gunatilleke, I.A.U.N., (2012):
    Testing the independent species' arrangement assertion made by theories of stochastic geometry of biodiversity
    Proc. R. Soc. B-Biol. Sci. 279 (1741), 3312 - 3320
    full text (url)
  • Hartig, F., Calabrese, J.M., Reineking, B., Wiegand, T., Huth, A., (2011):
    Statistical inference for stochastic simulation models - theory and application
    Ecol. Lett. 14 (8), 816 - 827
    full text (url)
  • Wiegand, T., Martínez, I., Huth, A., (2009):
    Recruitment in tropical tree species: revealing complex spatial patterns
    Am. Nat. 174 (4), E106 - E140
    full text (url)

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