Data_Sheet_6_Divergent Secondary Metabolites and Habitat Filtering Both Contribute to Tree Species Coexistence in the Peruvian Amazon.xlsx
Little is known about the mechanisms promoting or limiting the coexistence of functionally divergent species in hyperdiverse tropical tree genera. Density-dependent enemy attacks have been proposed to be a major driver for the local coexistence of chemically divergent congeneric species. At the same time, we expect local soil conditions to favor the coexistence of species sharing similar functional traits related to resource use strategies, while environmental heterogeneity would promote the diversity of these traits at both local and large spatial scales. To test how these traits mediate species coexistence, we used functional trait data for 29 species from the tree genus Protium (Burseraceae), collected in 19 plots (2 ha each) in the Peruvian Amazon. We characterized the presence-absence of 189 plant secondary metabolites (SM) for 27 of these species, and 14 functional traits associated with resource use strategies (RUT) for 16 species. Based on these data, we found that SM were significantly more dissimilar than null expectations for species co-occurring within plots, whereas RUT were significantly more similar. These results were consistent with the hypothesis that density-dependent enemy attacks contribute to the local coexistence of congeneric species displaying divergent chemical defenses, whereas local habitat conditions filter species with similar RUT. Using measurements of nine soil properties in each plot, we also found a significant turnover of RUT traits with increasing dissimilarity of soil texture and nutrient availabilities, providing support for the hypothesis that soil heterogeneity maintains functional diversity at larger spatial scales (from 500 m up to ca. 200 km) in Protium communities. Our study provides new evidence suggesting that density-dependent enemy attacks and soil heterogeneity both contribute to maintaining high species richness in diverse tropical forests.