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Abstract Detail

Ecological Section

Elliott, Tammy Lynn [1], Davies, T. Jonathan [2].

Understanding shifting plant boundary distributions using phylogenetic methods.

Biome boundaries are moving as the Earth's climate warms and mapping these shifting boundaries is critical, especially in the north where the magnitude of projected climate change on vegetation is predicted to be large. One method that has been used to delineate biotic boundaries is calculating the changing species composition of local communities using metrics of beta diversity based on species presence or abundance data. However, additional insights into the ecological and historical processes determining the geographical limits of plant communities can be gained by including the phylogenetic relationships among species. In this study, I compare the effectiveness of traditional species beta diversity versus phylogenetic beta diversity indices in delineating plant communities. During the 2013 field season, I estimated percent cover of all vascular plants within 1 m2 plots on Mont Irony, Quebec; this site has a high turnover in plant species at small spatial scales because of its location in the subarctic boreal-tundra transition zone. I created a phylogenetic tree for the 125 different vascular species present within the plots using sequences from two plastid and one nuclear gene. I clustered plots using three different distance indices: 1) environmental distances, 2) abundance-weighted beta diversity, and 3) abundance-weighted phylogenetic beta diversity. I then examined differences in phylogenetic and species beta diversity within and among clusters. Finally, I identified the clades driving beta diversity patterns across the study site. This research shows that more traditional beta diversity metrics can be as informative as more novel phylogenetic methods in delineating biome boundaries.

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1 - McGill University, Department of Biology, Stewart Biology Building , 1205 Docteur Penfield, Montreal, QC, H3A 1B1, Canada, 514-398-6428
2 - McGill University, Department of Biology, Stewart Biology Building, 1205 Docteur Penfield, Montreal, QU, H3A 1B1 , Canada

ecological transitions
land plants
beta diversity
Community ecology
delineating boundaries
phylogenetic beta diversity.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 35
Location: Salon 6/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
Time: 9:30 AM
Number: 35007
Abstract ID:501
Candidate for Awards:Ecological Section Best Graduate Student Paper

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