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Proc Biol Sci. 2017 Sep 27;284(1863). pii: 20171503. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.1503.

What drives the spatial distribution and dynamics of local species richness in tropical forest?

Author information

1
Department of Ecological Modelling, Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany.
2
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Biodiversity Synthesis, Deutscher Platz 5e, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.
3
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Biodiversity Synthesis, Deutscher Platz 5e, 04103 Leipzig, Germany felix.may@idiv.de.
4
Institute of Computer Science, Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, 06099 Halle (Saale), Germany.
5
Institute of Environmental Systems Research, University of Osnabrück, 49069 Osnabrück, Germany.

Abstract

Understanding the structure and dynamics of highly diverse tropical forests is challenging. Here we investigate the factors that drive the spatio-temporal variation of local tree numbers and species richness in a tropical forest (including 1250 plots of 20 × 20 m2). To this end, we use a series of dynamic models that are built around the local spatial variation of mortality and recruitment rates, and ask which combination of processes can explain the observed spatial and temporal variation in tree and species numbers. We find that processes not included in classical neutral theory are needed to explain these fundamental patterns of the observed local forest dynamics. We identified a large spatio-temporal variability in the local number of recruits as the main missing mechanism, whereas variability of mortality rates contributed to a lesser extent. We also found that local tree numbers stabilize at typical values which can be explained by a simple analytical model. Our study emphasized the importance of spatio-temporal variability in recruitment beyond demographic stochasticity for explaining the local heterogeneity of tropical forests.

KEYWORDS:

demographic rates; mortality; null model; recruitment; spatially explicit neutral model; species diversity

PMID:
28931739
PMCID:
PMC5627209
DOI:
10.1098/rspb.2017.1503
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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