Two contradictory niche-based processes, environmental filtering and competitive exclusion, are important ecological processes in community assembly. Quercus wutaishanica
forests are the climax communities in the Qinling Mountains and the Loess Plateau, China. Since these areas are characterized by different climate and evolutionary histories, these forests could be a suitable study system to test the phylogenetic niche conservatism hypothesis. We compared variation in community assembly of two distinct Q. wutaishanica
forest communities and analyzed how the variations are formed. Quercus wutaishanica
forest communities had significantly different species pool, phylogenetic structure and phylogenetic diversity between the two regions that were driven by inconsistency in environment conditions and evolutionary history at the local scale. Soil ammonium nitrogen, soil water content, and nitrate nitrogen play a major role in phylogenetic beta diversity patterns. The effect of environmental filtering on community assembly was more significant on the Loess Plateau than in the Qinling Mountains. Our study also found that local environment is important in mediating the patterns of phylogenetic structure. These findings provide insights into the mechanisms of local community assembly.
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