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Morphological overdispersion supports the role of competition in the community assembly of dragonflies: drivers and spatio-seasonal variation
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  • Roberto Novella-Fernandez,
  • Loïc Chalmandrier,
  • Roland Brandl,
  • Stefan Pinkert,
  • Dirk Zeuss,
  • Christian Hof
Roberto Novella-Fernandez
Technical University of Munich

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Loïc Chalmandrier
University of Regensburg Faculty of Natural Sciences III Biology and Preclinical Medicine
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Roland Brandl
Philipps-Universität Marburg
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Stefan Pinkert
University of Marburg
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Dirk Zeuss
Philipps-Universität Marburg Fachbereich 19 Geographie
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Christian Hof
Technical University of Munich
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Our understanding of how biotic interactions influence animal community assembly is largely restricted to local systems due to the difficulty of obtaining ecologically meaningful assemblage data across large spatial extents. We used a unique dataset of thousands of spatio-phenologically high-resolution assemblages across three distinct European regions together with a functional diversity approach to understand community assembly of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata), a group characterized by a pronounced competitive reproductive biology. We found that dragonfly, but not damselfly, assemblages were consistently overdispersed in the morphological traits driving inter-specific reproductive encounters, which supports the role of competition. As predicted by ecological theory, support for competition varied spatially and seasonally as a result of changes in temperature stress and niche packing. Our study provides uniquely consistent and general evidence for the role of competition in animal community assembly, and illustrates mechanistically how spatio-temporal diversity patterns arise from variation in assembly processes.