The mechanisms that shape plant diversity along resource gradients remain unresolved because competing theories have been evaluated in isolation. By testing multiple theories simultaneously across a >2-million-year dune chronosequence in an Australian biodiversity hotspot, we show that variation in plant diversity is not explained by local resource heterogeneity, resource partitioning, nutrient stoichiometry, or soil fertility along this strong resource gradient. Rather, our results suggest that diversity is determined by environmental filtering from the regional flora, driven by soil acidification during long-term pedogenesis. This finding challenges the prevailing view that resource competition controls local plant diversity along resource gradients, and instead reflects processes shaping species pools over evolutionary time scales.
Laliberte, E. (Creator), Zemunik, G. (Creator) & Turner, B. L. (Creator), Dryad Digital Repository, 29 Aug 2015