Biodiv Sci ›› 2005, Vol. 13 ›› Issue (3): 269-277.  DOI: 10.1360/biodiv.040197

• Editorial • Previous Articles    

Model analysis of plant community dynamics

Zhenguo Liu, Zhenqing Li* , Ming Dong   

  1. Laboratory of Quantitative Vegetation Ecology, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093
  • Received:2004-12-17 Revised:2005-04-24 Online:2005-05-20 Published:2005-05-20
  • Contact: Zhenqing Li


Plant community dynamics, such as renewal, fluctuation, succession and evolution, is central in the ecology of plant communities. Ecological modeling is an effective analytical tool for description of community dynamics and understanding of the mechanism of community establishment and maintenance. Here we introduce four typical conceptual models of dynamics of plant communities and their mechanisms, the mosaic-cycle model, the carousel model, the guild-proportionality model and the space-preemption model. These are compared in relation to pattern and process of communities and their spatial characteristics are discussed. Among them, only the mosaic-cycle model accounts for the effect of vegetation spatial com-bination between adjacent patches of plant communities. None of the models consider effects of natural disturbance and human disturbance on plant communities. To a certain extent, they all need to be improved for a general model for analyzing community dynamics. Three challenging directions of future research and one practical implication of community dynamics theory are put forward: (1) improvement of the ability to evaluate the relative importance of controlling processes at all spatial scales and to integrate knowledge about their complex interactions into dynamic models, (2) better assessment of the real importance of spatial configuration of natural environmental conditions and biological colonies in the dynamics of terrestrial plant communities, (3) recognition of the integration of natural and cultural processes in the development of dy-namics of plant communities and the mutual independence between the two kinds of disturbance processes, and (4) the emphasis on application of plant community dynamics models to restoration and reconstruction of degraded ecosystem. These insights are expected to provide a sound scientific foundation for the realization of the transformation from qualitative conceptual models to general theoretical models.