Individual species–area relationships in temperate coniferous forests

Journal of Vegetation Science
By: , and 

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Abstract

Questions

What drives individual species–area relationships in temperate coniferous forests?

Location

Two 25.6‐ha forest plots on the Pacific Slope of North America, one in California, and one in Washington State.

Methods

We mapped all trees ≥1 cm in diameter and examined tree species diversity of their local neighbourhoods by calculating the individual species–area relationship for each species and for each of three diameter classes (saplings, mature trees and large‐diameter trees).

Results

In the California plot, small trees in four of the five major species occurred in neighbourhoods with higher levels of diversity than would be expected at random. In the Washington plot, small trees for four of five abundant species had neighbourhoods with lower than expected diversity at distances ≤5 m for small trees. However, at distances >5 m, all five species showed higher than expected diversity in their neighbourhoods. Larger trees at both plots tended to occur in neighbourhoods with lower than expected diversity, and no large‐diameter focal species had neighbourhoods with higher than expected diversity.

Conclusion

Diversity and co‐existence in temperate conifer‐dominated forests do not appear to be the result of random processes. Competitive interactions appear to dominate for the largest trees of most species, resulting in neighbourhoods with lower diversity. For smaller trees, we suggest that a positive response to environmental heterogeneity is the likely driver of neighbourhoods with higher than expected diversity, although we cannot rule out the possibility that facilitation or conspecific negative density dependence (CNDD) also play a role.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Individual species–area relationships in temperate coniferous forests
Series title Journal of Vegetation Science
DOI 10.1111/jvs.12611
Volume 29
Issue 2
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 8 p.
First page 317
Last page 324