Do large-scale associations in birds imply biotic interactions or environmental filtering?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • Fulltext

    Final published version, 9.57 MB, PDF document

  • Merja Elo
  • Mira H. Kajanus
  • Jere Tolvanen
  • Vincent Devictor
  • Jukka T. Forsman
  • Aleksi Lehikoinen
  • Mikko Monkkonen
  • James T. Thorson
  • Vollstädt, Max
  • Sami M. Kivela

Aim There has been a wide interest in the effect of biotic interactions on species' occurrences and abundances at large spatial scales, coupled with a vast development of the statistical methods to study them. Still, evidence for whether the effects of within-trophic-level biotic interactions (e.g. competition and heterospecific attraction) are discernible beyond local scales remains inconsistent. Here, we present a novel hypothesis-testing framework based on joint dynamic species distribution models and functional trait similarity to dissect between environmental filtering and biotic interactions. Location France and Finland. Taxon Birds. Methods We estimated species-to-species associations within a trophic level, independent of the main environmental variables (mean temperature and total precipitation) for common species at large spatial scale with joint dynamic species distribution (a multivariate spatiotemporal delta model) models. We created hypotheses based on species' functionality (morphological and/or diet dissimilarity) and habitat preferences about the sign and strength of the pairwise spatiotemporal associations to estimate the extent to which they result from biotic interactions (competition, heterospecific attraction) and/or environmental filtering. Results Spatiotemporal associations were mostly positive (80%), followed by random (15%), and only 5% were negative. Where detected, negative spatiotemporal associations in different communities were due to a few species. The relationship between spatiotemporal association and functional dissimilarity among species was negative, which fulfils the predictions of both environmental filtering and heterospecific attraction. Main conclusions We showed that processes leading to species aggregation (mixture between environmental filtering and heterospecific attraction) seem to dominate assembly rules, and we did not find evidence for competition. Altogether, our hypothesis-testing framework based on joint dynamic species distribution models and functional trait similarity is beneficial in ecological interpretation of species-to-species associations from data covering several decades and biogeographical regions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)169-182
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2023

    Research areas

  • competition, functional traits, heterospecific attraction, joint dynamic species distribution models, macroecology, VAST, HETEROSPECIFIC ATTRACTION, SPECIES INTERACTIONS, FITNESS CONSEQUENCES, HABITAT SELECTION, INFORMATION USE, MIGRANT, MODELS, TIME, DISTRIBUTIONS, ASSEMBLAGES

ID: 325834353