About this Research Topic
In addition to the overarching influence of both climate and disturbance regimes, competition has long been recognized as a major factor affecting plant communities as species can be excluded or prevented to establish due to negative interactions with other, more dominant, species. Yet, existing computer models that simulate plant distribution from species to biomes often solely rely on climatic niches. Although climate interferes with plant growth, plants are able to persist outside their climatic ranges when competition is eliminated, as often seen at botanical gardens. This shows that there is still a lack of reliable process-based metrics that can examine the competitiveness of plants within community assemblages, especially in species-rich communities such as tropical forests. Nonetheless, the rapid expansion of functional trait ecology is taking a central role in understanding plant competitiveness which will be useful in predicting community assemblages. The inclusion of the effects of global changes over the competitiveness of plants in existing distribution models is likely to provide a way forward in understanding future terrestrial landscapes.
The goal of this Research Topic is to foster new insights on the application of functional trait approaches in quantifying and specifying the competitiveness of plants. Competition is most often defined as the preemption of resources (competitive effect) or tolerance to low and stressful levels of resources (competitive response). This is especially relevant to natural vegetation where the manipulation of resource availability, and the presence and specificity of neighboring competitors, are a result of the local history. We hope to identify unifying competition methodologies and concepts that are applicable to all tropical forested biomes.
We welcome studies that are based on literature reviews, meta-analyses, model development and application and those which are observational or experimental in nature. We are particularly interested, but not exclusively, in the following topics:
• Quantification of the competitive abilities of plants
• Identification of cooperation among pairs of species or general facilitation processes
• Mechanisms of the differentiation of species based on functional traits
• Community assembly rules based on competition
• Influence of primary productivity and environmental gradients over competitive abilities
• Scaling up of processes and relationships with ecosystem functioning
Keywords: Global Change, Tropical Forests, Plant Competition, Functional Trait Ecology
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.