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Forests 2019, 10(2), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10020128

Species Diversity Associated with Foundation Species in Temperate and Tropical Forests

1
Harvard Forest, Harvard University, Petersham, MA 01366, USA
2
School of Science, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland Central 1010, New Zealand
3
Instituto Amazónico de Investigaciones Científicas Sinchi, Leticia, Colombia
4
Universidad Nacional de Colombia Sede Medellín, Medelliín, Colombia
5
S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources and the Ecology Center, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA
6
Department of Biology, Washington University in St. Louis, Saint Louis, MO 63130, USA
7
Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Puerto Rico–Rio Piedras, Rio Piedras 00925, Puerto Rico
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 January 2019 / Revised: 2 February 2019 / Accepted: 4 February 2019 / Published: 5 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Causes and Consequences of Species Diversity in Forest Ecosystems)
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Abstract

Foundation species define and structure ecological communities but are difficult to identify before they are declining. Yet, their defining role in ecosystems suggests they should be a high priority for protection and management while they are still common and abundant. We used comparative analyses of six large forest dynamics plots spanning a temperate-to-tropical gradient in the Western Hemisphere to identify statistical “fingerprints” of potential foundation species based on their size-frequency and abundance-diameter distributions, and their spatial association with five measures of diversity of associated woody plant species. Potential foundation species are outliers from the common “reverse-J” size-frequency distribution, and have negative effects on alpha diversity and positive effects on beta diversity at most spatial lags and directions. Potential foundation species also are more likely in temperate forests, but foundational species groups may occur in tropical forests. As foundation species (or species groups) decline, associated landscape-scale (beta) diversity is likely to decline along with them. Preservation of this component of biodiversity may be the most important consequence of protecting foundation species while they are still common. View Full-Text
Keywords: abundance; Bray-Curtis; codispersion analysis; Smithsonian ForestGEO; Shannon diversity; Simpson diversity; spatial analysis; species richness abundance; Bray-Curtis; codispersion analysis; Smithsonian ForestGEO; Shannon diversity; Simpson diversity; spatial analysis; species richness
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Ellison, A.M.; Buckley, H.L.; Case, B.S.; Cardenas, D.; Duque, Á.J.; Lutz, J.A.; Myers, J.A.; Orwig, D.A.; Zimmerman, J.K. Species Diversity Associated with Foundation Species in Temperate and Tropical Forests. Forests 2019, 10, 128.

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