Taxonomic divergence and functional convergence in Iberian spider forest communities: insights from beta diversity partitioning

Carvalho, J.C., Malumbres-Olarte, J., Arnedo, M., Crespo, L., Domenech, M. & Cardoso, P. (2020) Taxonomic divergence and functional convergence in Iberian spider forest communities: insights from beta diversity partitioning. 

Journal of Biogeography, 47(1), 288-300. DOI:10.1111/jbi.13722 (IF2020 4,324; Q1 Ecology)
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  • Jan, 2020



The main aims were to determine: (a) the relative contribution of species replacement and richness difference from components to overall taxonomic (TDβ) and functional (FDβ) beta diversity of spider communities; (b) the degree to which TDβ and FDβ components can be explained by the environmental or geographic predictors; (c) whether FDβ components were lower than expected given the underlying TDβ variation.


This study was carried out in 22 oak forest sites across the Iberian Peninsula. The area comprises two biogeographic regions, Eurosiberian (North) and Mediterranean (Centre and South).


Spiders were sampled using a standardized protocol. A species x traits matrix was constructed. Total taxonomic (TDβtotal) and total functional (FDβtotal) beta diversity were calculated, by pairwise comparisons, and partitioned into their replacement (βrepl) and richness difference (βrich) components. Mantel tests were used to relate taxonomic and functional dissimilarity with environmental and geographic distances. A spatial eigenfunction model was constructed and the variation in TDβ and FDβ explained by environment and geographic predictors was quantified. Null models were used to test if FDβ was higher or lower than expected given TDβ.


βrepl was the dominant component contributing to 84.2% and 72.8% for TDβtotal and FDβtotal, respectively. TDβtotal and FDβtotal (and their replacement components) were higher between‐ than within‐biogeographic regions. TDβtotal and TDβrepl were positively correlated with environmental and geographic distances, even when controlling for a biogeographic effect, but their functional counterparts were only correlated with environmental distance. Variation partitioning showed that pure environmental and spatially structured environmental effects had a small contribution to beta diversity, except for TDβrich. The observed slopes of the regressions of FDβtotal and FDβrepl in relation to environmental distance were slower than the null model expectations.

Main Conclusions

Spider assemblage variation was mainly determined by the replacement, and not the net loss, of species and traits. TDβ was influenced by niche filtering and dispersal limitation, whereas FDβ was mainly generated by niche filtering. A high level of functional convergence among spider communities, despite the high taxonomic divergence, revealed the signal of replacement of species performing similar functions across sites.