Resource diversity and provenance underpin spatial patterns in functional diversity across native and exotic species

Verónica Méndez, Jamie R. Wood, Simon J. Butler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Functional diversity metrics are increasingly used to augment or replace taxonomic diversity metrics to deliver more mechanistic insights into community structure and function. Metrics used to describe landscape structure and characteristics share many of the same limitations as taxonomy-based metrics, particularly their reliance on anthropogenically defined typologies with little consideration of structure, management, or function. However, the development of alternative metrics to describe landscape characteristics has been limited. Here, we extend the functional diversity framework to characterize landscapes based on the diversity of resources available across habitats present. We then examine the influence of resource diversity and provenance on the functional diversities of native and exotic avian communities in New Zealand. Invasive species are increasingly prevalent and considered a global threat to ecosystem function, but the characteristics of and interactions between sympatric native and exotic communities remain unresolved. Understanding their comparative responses to environmental change and the mechanisms underpinning them is of growing importance in predicting community dynamics and changing ecosystem function. We use (i) matrices of resource use (species) and resource availability (habitats) and (ii) occurrence data for 62 native and 25 exotic species and 19 native and 13 exotic habitats in 2015 10 × 10 km quadrats to examine the relationship between native and exotic avian and landscape functional diversity. The numbers of species in, and functional diversities of, native and exotic communities were positively related. Each community displayed evidence of environmental filtering, but it was significantly stronger for exotic species. Less environmental filtering occurred in landscapes providing a more diverse combination of resources, with resource provenance also an influential factor. Landscape functional diversity explained a greater proportion of variance in native and exotic community characteristics than the number of habitat types present. Resource diversity and provenance should be explicitly accounted for when characterizing landscape structure and change as they offer additional mechanistic understanding of the links between environmental filtering and community structure. Manipulating resource diversity through the design and implementation of management actions could prove a powerful tool for the delivery of conservation objectives, be they to protect native species, control exotic species, or maintain ecosystem service provision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4409-4421
Number of pages13
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Birds New Zealand Inc. for providing access to the New Zealand Bird Distribution 1999–2004 data. This work was supported by capability funding (CF1213-95-05) and core funding awarded to Landcare Research by New Zealand's Ministry for Business, Innovation, and Employment. VM was supported by Natural Environment Research Council grant NE/M012549/1 and SJB by a Natural Environment Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship (NE/I020350/1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Other keywords

  • avian community
  • environmental filtering
  • functional diversity
  • New Zealand
  • resource provision
  • resource use
  • simultaneous autoregressive models


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