New evidence demonstrates that facilitation plays a crucial role even at the edgeof life in Maritime Antarctica. These findings are interpreted as support for thestress-gradient hypothesis (SGH) – a dominant theory in plant community ecologythat predicts that the frequency of facilitation directly increases with stress.A recent development to this theory, however, proposed that facilitation oftencollapses at the extreme end of stress and physical disturbance gradients. In thispaper, we clarify the current debate on the importance of plant interactions atthe edge of life by illustrating the necessity of separating the two alternatives tothe SGH, namely the collapse of facilitation, and the switch from facilitation tocompetition occurring in water-stressed ecosystems. These two different alternativesto the SGH are currently often amalgamated with each other, which hasled to confusion in recent literature. We propose that the collapse of facilitationis generally due to a decrease in the effect of the nurse plant species, whilst theswitch from facilitation to competition is driven by environmental conditionsand strategy of the response species. A clear separation between those two alternativesis particularly crucial for predicting the role of plant–plant interactions inmediating species responses to global change.—————————————————————————————————————————————The questions explain what hypothesis and alternative hypothesis should be constructed for this study and why. What specific data methods would you use and why would you use them? What predictions and outcomes can you determine from your data analysis methods?
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