A Randomized Trait Community Clustering (RTCC) approach to unveil consistent environmental thresholds in community assembly

RTTC: a new conceptual method to identify environmental thresholds over which certain processes controlling community assembly become dominant.

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For years ecologists have been struggling to understand what drives species diversity across space and time. This is certainly a difficult and challenging task that requires a proper blend between observational/empirical data and conceptually original quantitative methods. In this manuscript, we use a comprehensive spatiotemporal regional dataset of a regional pool of aquatic microbial communities from saline lakes. The RTCC method we develop can find consistent thresholds in the value of a variable along the gradient unveiling changes in the leading drivers controlling community assembly. We show the potential of microbial datasets to address central questions in community ecology. This method can be also used to make accurate predictions for the impact of environmental changes along gradients on ecological communities in general. 

David Alonso

Research Scientist, CSIC