Functional convergence and phylogenetic divergence during secondary succession of subtropical wet forests in Puerto Rico
Understanding how the relative importance of different community assembly processes changes during secondary succession of diverse systems remains elusive. Functional and phylogenetic approaches that place species along continuous axes of niche differentiation and evolutionary relatedness, however, are deepening our understanding of the mechanisms that drive successional dynamics. We ask whether successional shifts in the functional and phylogenetic composition of post‐agricultural tropical forests provide evidence for niche partitioning or competitive dominance hierarchies as drivers of successional change.
We linked both functional and phylogenetic dimensions of community diversity with successional trajectories of post‐agricultural tropical forests. Contrasting patterns of these dimensions of diversity shed light on the underlying community assembly processes. We argue that integrating traits and phylogeny with specific hypotheses about physiological and historical mechanisms is essential for advancing our understanding of the drivers of community change during succession.