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Phylogenetic clustering in beneficial attributes of tree species directly linked to provisioning, regulating and cultural ecosystem services

Oka, Chihiro, Aiba, Masahiro, Nakashizuka, Tohru
Ecological indicators 2019 v.96 pp. 477-495
cluster analysis, ecosystem services, ecosystems, environmental indicators, phylogeny, trees, Japan
Phylogenetic diversity is expected to be an important predictor of ecosystem multifunctionality because distant relatives are often more functionally different than close relatives. However, the general extent of non-random linkages between phylogeny and ecosystem services remains unclear. In this study, we examined phylogenetic clustering and associations of beneficial attributes of tree species that are essential for various aspects of ecosystem services to assess the generality of the phylogenetic bias in ecosystem service provision. Through literature mining, we compiled 15 benefits linked to a wide variety of ecosystem services for 171 tree species common in Japan to examine phylogenetic clustering in the beneficial attributes. In addition, we examined whether taxonomically different species provide different bundles, or suites, of benefits. Significant phylogenetic signals were detected in all 15 beneficial attributes even though some benefits are specific to Japanese culture. Beneficial species overlapped significantly more than random expectation for 25 of the 105 possible combinations of the benefits, whereas they differed significantly for eight combinations of the benefits. Cluster analysis classified the species into five groups by similarity of their beneficial attributes. Distribution of these groups among phylogenetic clades was significantly uneven, indicating that phylogenetically distant species tended to have different bundles of beneficial attributes. Fabids tended to provide more kinds of benefits than species in other clades. Overall our analysis suggests that, at least in tree communities of Japan, phylogenetic diversity can potentially increase ecosystem multifunctionality via complementarity of beneficial attributes among phylogenetically distant species. Future analyses of actual relationships between phylogenetic diversity and multifunctionality of tree communities will provide further insights into the ecological processes sustaining ecosystem multifunctionality.