University of Oulu

Elo, M., Kajanus, M. H., Tolvanen, J., Devictor, V., Forsman, J. T., Lehikoinen, A., Mönkkönen, M., Thorson, J. T., Vollstädt, M. G. R., & Kivelä, S. M. (2023). Do large-scale associations in birds imply biotic interactions or environmental filtering? Journal of Biogeography, 50, 169– 182.

Do large-scale associations in birds imply biotic interactions or environmental filtering?

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Author: Elo, Merja1; Kajanus, Mira H.2; Tolvanen, Jere2;
Organizations: 1Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
2Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3ISEM, Univ. de Montpellier, CNRS, IRD, EPHE, Montpellier, France
4Natural Resources Institute Finland, Oulu, Finland
5Finnish Museum of Natural History, Helsinki, Finland
6National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, Seattle, Washington, USA
7Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, GLOBE Institute, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 9.6 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-12-14


Aim: There has been a wide interest in the effect of biotic interactions on species’ occurrences and abundances at large spatial scales, coupled with a vast development of the statistical methods to study them. Still, evidence for whether the effects of within-trophic-level biotic interactions (e.g. competition and heterospecific attraction) are discernible beyond local scales remains inconsistent. Here, we present a novel hypothesis-testing framework based on joint dynamic species distribution models and functional trait similarity to dissect between environmental filtering and biotic interactions.

Location: France and Finland.

Taxon: Birds.

Methods: We estimated species-to-species associations within a trophic level, independent of the main environmental variables (mean temperature and total precipitation) for common species at large spatial scale with joint dynamic species distribution (a multivariate spatiotemporal delta model) models. We created hypotheses based on species’ functionality (morphological and/or diet dissimilarity) and habitat preferences about the sign and strength of the pairwise spatiotemporal associations to estimate the extent to which they result from biotic interactions (competition, heterospecific attraction) and/or environmental filtering.

Results: Spatiotemporal associations were mostly positive (80%), followed by random (15%), and only 5% were negative. Where detected, negative spatiotemporal associations in different communities were due to a few species. The relationship between spatiotemporal association and functional dissimilarity among species was negative, which fulfils the predictions of both environmental filtering and heterospecific attraction.

Main conclusions: We showed that processes leading to species aggregation (mixture between environmental filtering and heterospecific attraction) seem to dominate assembly rules, and we did not find evidence for competition. Altogether, our hypothesis-testing framework based on joint dynamic species distribution models and functional trait similarity is beneficial in ecological interpretation of species-to-species associations from data covering several decades and biogeographical regions.

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Series: Journal of biogeography
ISSN: 0305-0270
ISSN-E: 1365-2699
ISSN-L: 0305-0270
Volume: 50
Issue: 1
Pages: 169 - 182
DOI: 10.1111/jbi.14520
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This study was funded by Kone Foundation (M. Elo, J.T. Forsman), Kvantum Institute at University of Oulu (J.T. Forsman, M.H. Kajanus, J. Tolvanen), Unit of Ecology and Genetics at University of Oulu (M.H. Kajanus), North Ostrobothnia Regional Fund at the Finnish Cultural Foundation (M.H. Kajanus), Emil Aaltonen Foundation (S.M. Kivelä) and Academy of Finland (S.M. Kivelä: #314833 & #319898; A. Lehikoinen #323527).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 314833
Detailed Information: 314833 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
319898 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. Journal of Biogeography published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.