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Bringing methodological light to ecological processes : are ecological scales and constrained null models relevant solutions?

Abstract : Species distributions observed in an heterogeneous environment result from multiple deterministic and stochastic processes acting as filters to constrain species co-existence. As a direct consequence, the successive actions of these processes spatially structure communities composition and the variation of these compositions (i.e., beta-diversity). One of the major objective in community and metacommunity ecology is to identify and quantify the respective effects of these different processes on communities beta-diversity to better understand and predict the distribution of biodiversity. Experiments being hardly possible, processes responsible for the spatial variation of communities composition are generally inferred from spatial patterns of species distributions observed in nature. In this context, the thesis aims at improving multivariate statistical tools conducted to identify and quantify the effects of ecological processes shaping communities and metacommunities. In particular, this thesis proposes to integrate ecological scales and constrained null models to study the effect of environment.Decomposing trait-environment relationships through spatial and phylogenetic scales allows to further study environmental filtering. The association of spatial scales involved in environmental filtering with the phylogenetic signals of traits allowed to capture the evolutive history related to environmental filtering. The interpretation in terms of evolutive processes is however limited and phylogenetically-constrained null models should be considered to improve the analysis. Following on from this work, spatially-constrained null models were developed and integrated into two multivariate analyses widely used in community ecology (i.e., variation partitioning and Mantel tests) to estimate and test the effect of environmental filtering on species assemblages. Both approaches presented overestimation of their computed statistic as well as high rates of false positive when species distributions (via limited dispersal) and environmental conditions were independently spatially structured. Integrating spatially-constrained null models allowed to adjust both their tests and the values of their statistic, as such demonstrating the need of using ecologically-constrained null models to correctly identify and quantify ecological processes.For future works, the thesis suggests that adopting a scaling approach to study ecological processes in addition to mechanistic null models could offer the possibility to distinguish processes from one another
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Sylvie Clappe. Bringing methodological light to ecological processes : are ecological scales and constrained null models relevant solutions?. Ecology, environment. Université de Lyon, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018LYSE1272⟩. ⟨tel-02411567v2⟩

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