Biodiv Sci ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (6): 617-628.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2016054

• Original Papers: Plant Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of species abundance and size classes on assessing community phylogenetic structure: a case study in Jianfengling tropical montane rainforest

Gexi Xu1, Zuomin Shi1,2,*(), Jingchao Tang1, Han Xu3, Huai Yang4, Shirong Liu1, Yide Li3, Mingxian Lin4   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory on Forest Ecology and Environmental Sciences, State Forestry Administration, Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091
    2 Co-innovation Centre for Sustainable Forestry in Southern China, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing 210037
    3 Research Institute of Tropical Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Guangzhou 510520
    4 Experimental Station of Research Institute of Tropical Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Ledong, Hainan 572542
  • Received:2016-02-25 Accepted:2016-06-05 Online:2016-06-20 Published:2016-06-20
  • Contact: Shi Zuomin


Studying community phylogenetic diversity within forest stands of different diameter classes (i.e. size classes) is helpful for understanding relationships among species at different ages while at the same time community phylogenetic structure. However, little research has been focused on the influence of species abundance on phylogenetic structure of community. This study was conducted in the Jianfengling tropical montane rainforest on Hainan Island. First, we assessed the impact of species abundance on four widely used phylogenetic diversity indices at different size classes. Next, two of the indices (i.e. net relatedness index, NRI and nearest taxon index, NTI) were standardized and used to quantify phylogenetic relatedness of woody plants at different size classes across a series of local habitat types. The results showed that: (1) The unweighted MPD (mean pairwise distance) index significantly overestimated phylogenetic diversity relative to MPD weighted according to species abundance. This overestimation when using unweighted MPD was greatest for small trees and shrubs (1 cm≤DBH<5 cm). Therefore species abundance information should be taken into consideration in the study of phylogenetic structure of community when most of the trees and shrubs are young and small. (2) The community phylogenetic structure was most likely overdispersed among almost all size classes and habitats of the Jianfengling tropical montane rainforest (NRI<0). This phylogenetic overdispersion increased as size class increased. (3) The partial community phylogenetic structure tended to be clustered at middle and small size classes (NTI>0). However, this pattern continued to show overdispersion within communities made up of large trees (DBH≥15 cm) (NTI<0). In summary, studies assessing the influences of species abundance and size classes on community phylogenetic structure are required.

Key words: tropical montane rainforest, phylogenetic diversity, weighted species abundance, size classes, habitat heterogeneity, Jianfengling