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      CAN STABLE ISOTOPE RATIOS PROVIDE FOR COMMUNITY-WIDE MEASURES OF TROPHIC STRUCTURE?

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      Ecology

      Wiley-Blackwell

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          The ecology of individuals: incidence and implications of individual specialization.

          Most empirical and theoretical studies of resource use and population dynamics treat conspecific individuals as ecologically equivalent. This simplification is only justified if interindividual niche variation is rare, weak, or has a trivial effect on ecological processes. This article reviews the incidence, degree, causes, and implications of individual-level niche variation to challenge these simplifications. Evidence for individual specialization is available for 93 species distributed across a broad range of taxonomic groups. Although few studies have quantified the degree to which individuals are specialized relative to their population, between-individual variation can sometimes comprise the majority of the population's niche width. The degree of individual specialization varies widely among species and among populations, reflecting a diverse array of physiological, behavioral, and ecological mechanisms that can generate intrapopulation variation. Finally, individual specialization has potentially important ecological, evolutionary, and conservation implications. Theory suggests that niche variation facilitates frequency-dependent interactions that can profoundly affect the population's stability, the amount of intraspecific competition, fitness-function shapes, and the population's capacity to diversify and speciate rapidly. Our collection of case studies suggests that individual specialization is a widespread but underappreciated phenomenon that poses many important but unanswered questions.
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            Functional diversity (FD), species richness and community composition

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              A trait-based test for habitat filtering: convex hull volume.

              Community assembly theory suggests that two processes affect the distribution of trait values within communities: competition and habitat filtering. Within a local community, competition leads to ecological differentiation of coexisting species, while habitat filtering reduces the spread of trait values, reflecting shared ecological tolerances. Many statistical tests for the effects of competition exist in the literature, but measures of habitat filtering are less well-developed. Here, we present convex hull volume, a construct from computational geometry, which provides an n-dimensional measure of the volume of trait space occupied by species in a community. Combined with ecological null models, this measure offers a useful test for habitat filtering. We use convex hull volume and a null model to analyze California woody-plant trait and community data. Our results show that observed plant communities occupy less trait space than expected from random assembly, a result consistent with habitat filtering.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Ecology
                Ecology
                Wiley-Blackwell
                0012-9658
                January 2007
                January 2007
                : 88
                : 1
                : 42-48
                Article
                10.1890/0012-9658(2007)88[42:CSIRPF]2.0.CO;2
                © 2007

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