The Abundant Niche-centroid Hypothesis: Key Points About Unfilled Niches and the Potential Use of Supraspecfic Modeling Units

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Carlos Yañez
Gerardo Martín
Luis Osorio-Olvera
Jazmín Escobar-Luján
Sandra Castaño-Quintero
Xavier Chiappa-Carrara
Enrique Martínez-Meyer

Abstract

Correlative estimates of fundamental niches are gaining momentum as an alternative to predict species’ abundances, particularly via the abundant niche-centroid hypothesis (an expected inverse relationship between species’ abundance variation across its range and the distance to the geometric centroid of its multidimensional ecological niche). The main goal of this review is to recapitulate what has been done, where we are now, and where should we move towards in regards to this hypothesis. Despite evidence in support of the abundance-distance to niche centroid relationship, its usefulness has been highly debated, although with little consideration of the underlying theory regarding the circumstances that might break down the relationship. We address some key points about the conditions needed to test the hypothesis in correlative studies, specifically in relation to niche
characterization and configurations of the Biotic-Abiotic-Mobility (BAM) framework to illustrate the problem of unfilled niches. Using a created supraspecific modeling unit, we show that species for which only a portion of their fundamental niche is represented in their area of historical accessibility (M)—i.e., when the environmental equilibrium condition is violated—it is impossible to characterize their true niche centroid. Therefore, we strongly recommend to analyze this assumption prior to
assess the abundant niche-centroid hypothesis. Finally, we discuss the potential of using modeling units above the species level for cases in which environmental conditions associated with species’ occurrences may not be sufficient to fully characterize their fundamental niches.

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Articles (peer-reviewed)