Résumé: Question Which functional diversity indices have the power to reveal changes in community assembly processes along abiotic stress gradients? Is their power affected by stochastic processes and variations in species richness along stress gradients?
Methods We used a simple community assembly model to explore the power of functional diversity indices across a wide range of ecological contexts. FD) and convex hull volume (FRic) – with a matrix-swap null model (yielding indices SESFD and SESFRic) to remove any trivial effects of species richness. We also compared two indices that measure both functional richness and functional divergence – Rao quadratic entropy (Rao) and functional dispersion (FDis) – with a null model that randomizes abundances across species but within communities. SESRao and SESFDis).
Results When mass effects operated, only SESRao and SESFDis gave reasonable power, irrespective of how species richness varied along the stress gradient. FD, FRic, Rao and FDis had low power when species richness was constant, and variation in species richness greatly influenced their power. SESFRic and SESFD were unaffected by variation in species richness. When priority effects operated, FRic, SESFRic, Rao and FDis had good power and were unaffected by variation in species richness. Variation in species richness greatly affected FD and SESFD. SESRao and SESFDis had low power in the priority effects model but were unaffected by variation in species richness.
Conclusions Our results demonstrate that a reliable test for changes in assembly processes along stress gradients requires functional diversity indices measuring either functional richness or functional divergence. We recommend using SESFRic as a measure of functional richness and either SESRao or SESFDis (which are very closely related mathematically) as a measure of functional divergence. Used together, these indices of functional richness and functional divergence provide good power to test for increasing niche complementarity with declining stress across a broad range of ecological contexts.