Indexed on: 23 May '19Published on: 22 May '19Published in: Ecology and Evolution
Exploring the community assembly has been important for explaining the maintenance mechanisms of biodiversity and species coexistence, in that it is a central issue in community ecology. Here, we examined patterns of the community phylogenetic structure of the subalpine meadow plant community along the slope gradient in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau of China. We surveyed all species and constructed the phylogenetic tree of the plant community based on data from the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group III. We selected the net relative index (NRI) and evaluated the community phylogenetic structure along the five slope plants communities. We found that the phylogenetic structure varied from phylogenetic clustering to phylogenetic overdispersion with the slope aspect from north to south. In the north slope, the community phylogenetically cluster indicated that the limiting similarity played a leading role in the community assembly and the maintenance of biodiversity. Community phylogenetic overdispersion in the east, southeast, and south slopes indicated that habitat filtration was the driving force for community assembly. The NRI index of the northeast slope was close to zero, implying random dispersion. But it may be driven by the neutral process or limiting similarity, in that the community assembly process was the result of a combination of several ecological factors and thus required further study.