Scaling of Plant Functional Diversity Across Stress Gradients
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Scale has an incredible ability to influence biological patterns. Well-known examples include the change in metabolic rate with body size and the increase in biodiversity with area. Community assembly addresses how the environment filters and sorts species by their traits to change functional biodiversity. When environmental stress is strong, coexisting species tend to be more similar than expected by chance (i.e., lower than expected functional biodiversity). When competition is strong, coexisting species may either partition resources and be more different than expected by chance (i.e., greater than expected functional biodiversity) or they may use equalizing mechanisms and be more similar than expected. Scale may also influence patterns of community assembly and it may be useful to use the Functional Diversity Area Relationship (FDAR) to better understand the way in which scale affects our understanding.