Biodiversity Science ›› 2011, Vol. 19 ›› Issue (2): 168-177.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2011.10107

Special Issue: Forest Biodiversity

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Responses of species–abundance distribution to varying sampling scales in a subtropical broad-leaved forest

Jiajia Cheng1, 2, Xiangcheng Mi2, Keping Ma2, Jintun Zhang1*   

  1. 1College of Life Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875

    2State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093
  • Received:2010-04-28 Revised:2010-07-15 Online:2011-06-01
  • Jintun Zhang E-mail:zhangjt@bnu.edu.cn; zhangjintun@yahoo.com.cn

We determined the best-fit model for, and explored the mechanisms shaping species–abundance distributions (SADs) by fitting five widely-used SAD distribution models at several scales. We used data collected in 2005 from a 24-ha dynamic plot in an evergreen broad-leaved forest in the Gutianshan National Nature Reserve. We estimated SAD at different sampling scales from the mean value of SADs taken from 100 randomly-selected subplots within the 600 m×400 m Gutianshan plot. We subsequently used the SADs to test the fit of different models, including the broken stick, lognormal distribution, niche preemption, Zipf, Zipf- Mandelbrot, and neutral models. We employed AIC and χ2 values to test goodness-of-fit for these models. All computations were conducted using the Vegan package in R 2.7.1. At smaller scales (10 m×10 m and 20 m×20 m), the broken stick, lognormal distribution, niche preemption, Zipf, and Zipf-Mandelbrot models all fit well to the observed species–abundance distribution. The Zipf-Mandelbrot was the best model at the 20 m×20 m scale. The Lognormal was the best-fit model at the 40 m×40 m scale, and the Zipf-Mandelbrot model was the only suitable one in explaining the observed SAD at scales of 60 m×60 m and 80 m×80 m. None of these models performed well at a scale of 100 m×100 m, but the neutral model was better at explaining patterns of SADs at larger scales (40 m×40 m to 100 m×100 m) than smaller scales and it is suitable in explaining patterns of SADs at all scales. Patterns in SAD were scale-dependent, suggesting that SADs at different scales are likely structured by different ecological processes.

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