What are the factors responsible for the assembly and evolution of tropical forest tree communities in the Western Ghats?
Improved understanding of the processes shaping the assembly of tropical tree communities is crucial for gaining insights into the evolution of forest communities and biological diversity. The climate is thought to be a major determinant of abundance and distribution patterns of tree species. However, the relative role of neutral and niche-based processes in the evolution of these patterns remains poorly understood.
In this study, an integrated analysis of data on tree species abundance and functional traits from a network of 96 forest plots, each one hectare in size was carried out. The plots were distributed along a broad environmental gradient in the central Western Ghats. The authors, highlight that there is a distinct compositional and evolutionary imprint in tropical tree communities. According to the authors, environmental variables and historical human disturbance mainly influence this imprint.