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Journal Article

Beyond the fast-slow continuum: demographic dimensions structuring a tropical tree community


Wirth,  Christian
Interdepartmental Max Planck Fellow Group Functional Biogeography, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Rüger, N., Comita, L. S., Condit, R., Purves, D., Rosenbaum, B., Visser, M. D., et al. (2018). Beyond the fast-slow continuum: demographic dimensions structuring a tropical tree community. Ecology Letters, 21, 1075-1084. doi:10.1111/ele.12974.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-96B1-D
Life-history theory posits that trade-offs between demographic rates constrain the range of viable life-history strategies. For coexisting tropical tree species, the best established demographic tradeoff is the growth-survival trade-off. However, we know surprisingly little about co-variation of growth and survival with measures of reproduction. We analysed demographic rates from seed to adult of 282 co-occurring tropical tree and shrub species, including measures of reproduction and accounting for ontogeny. Besides the well-established fast–slow continuum, we identified a second major dimension of demographic variation: a trade-off between recruitment and seedling performance vs. growth and survival of larger individuals (≥ 1 cm dbh) corresponding to a ‘stature–recruitment’ axis. The two demographic dimensions were almost perfectly aligned with two independent trait dimensions (shade tolerance and size). Our results complement recent analyses of plant life-history variation at the global scale and reveal that demographic trade-offs along multiple axes act to structure local communities.