Research output

Coexistence and niche differentiation at large spatial scale in a West-European softwater plant community

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-article


  • Sofie Ruysschaert
  • Leon J.L. van den Berg
  • Jan G.M. Roelofs
  • Alfons J.P. Smolders

Departments, research groups and services

External Organisations

  • Terrestrial Ecology Unit, Department of Biology, Ghent University,
  • B-WARE Research Centre, Radboud University Nijmegen
  • Department of Aquatic Ecology & Environmental Biology, Radboud University Nijmegen


Original languageEnglish
JournalPlant Ecology
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 26-Feb-2016


There is growing evidence that species are able to coexist in communities through niche separation, and that consistent community structuring can take place at the biogeographical scale, as the same biotic interactions can determine species’ fate at large scales. In this study, we document niche differentiation at a larger scale within a specific plant community of softwater lakes in Western Europe. Five species were selected for their relative frequency and wide geographical distribution within the dataset that we collected. Their niches were modelled both from presence-absence data and from ordinal abundance data, using mixed regression techniques (generalized linear mixed models and proportional odds mixed models, respectively). The modelled realized niches differed among the species on the West-European scale, although strict separation was not shown and geographical coverage is not complete. Plant strategy characterization of the species supported the assumption that functional traits underpin the niche differentiation among the species through fitness trade-offs. Mechanistic experimental research at a range of spatial scales is needed to test the importance of different community structuring mechanisms at the biogeographical scale, such as biotic interactions and environmental filtering.
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  • Vanderhaeghe_etal_2016_PlantEcol

    Final published version, 920 KB, PDF document

  • Vanderhaeghe_etal_2016_PlantEcol

    Other version, 518 KB, Word document

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