Visualizing connectivity of ecological and evolutionary concepts – an exploration of research on plant species rarity
Weigand T., Gentry B., McCoy Z., Tanis C., Klug H., BONSALL M., Nagel Boyd J.
Understanding the ecological and evolutionary factors that influence species rarity has important theoretical and applied implications, yet the reasons why some species are rare while others are common remain unresolved. As a novel exploration of scientific knowledge, we used network analysis conceptually to visualize the foci of a comprehensive base of >800 studies on plant species rarity within the context of ecology and evolution. In doing so, we highlight existing research strengths that could substantiate novel syntheses and gaps that could inspire new research. Our results reveal strong integrated foci on population dynamics with other ecological concepts. In contrast, despite the potential for ecological and evolutionary processes to interact, few studies explored the interplay of environmental factors and microevolutionary patterns. The cellular and molecular biology, physiology, and plasticity of rare plant species within both ecological and evolutionary contexts similarly provide avenues for impactful future investigations.