Knowledge about the phylogeny and ecology of communities along environmental gradients helps to dis- entangle the role of competition-driven processes and environmental ﬁltering for community assembly. In this study, we evaluated patterns in species richness, phylogenetic structure and life-history traits of bee communities along altitudinal gradients in the Alps, Germany. We found a linear decline in species richness and abundance but increasing phylogenetic clustering in communities with increasing altitude. The proportion of social- and ground-nesting species, as well as mean body size and altitudinal range of bee communities, increased with increasing altitude, whereas the mean geographical distribution decreased. Our results suggest that community assembly at high altitudes is dominated by environ- mental ﬁltering effects, whereas the relative importance of competition increases at low altitudes. We conclude that inherent phylogenetic and ecological species attributes at high altitudes pose a threat for less competitive alpine specialists with ongoing climate change.
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