Soil properties drive a negative correlation between species diversity and genetic diversity in a tropical seasonal rainforest
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A negative species-genetic diversity correlation (SGDC) could be predicted by the niche variation hypothesis, whereby an increase in species diversity within community reduces the genetic diversity of the co-occurring species because of the reduction in average niche breadth; alternatively, competition could reduce effective population size and therefore genetic diversity of the species within community. We tested these predictions within a 20 ha tropical forest dynamics plot (FDP) in the Xishuangbanna tropical seasonal rainforest. We established 15 plots within the FDP and investigated the soil properties, tree diversity, and genetic diversity of a common tree species Beilschmiedia roxburghiana within each plot. We observed a significant negative correlation between tree diversity and the genetic diversity of B. roxburghiana within the communities. Using structural equation modeling, we further determined that the inter-plot environmental characteristics (soil pH and phosphorus availability) directly affected tree diversity and that the tree diversity within the community determined the genetic diversity of B. roxburghiana. Increased soil pH and phosphorus availability might promote the coexistence of more tree species within community and reduce genetic diversity of B. roxburghiana for the reduced average niche breadth; alternatively, competition could reduce effective population size and therefore genetic diversity of B. roxburghiana within community.
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