Biodiv Sci ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (6): 658-664.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2015239

• Original Papers: Plant Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The relative contributions of rare and common species to the patterns of species richness in plant communities

Shixiong Wang1, Liang Zhao1,*(), Na Li1, Hua Guo2, Xiaoan Wang2, Renyan Duan3,*()   

  1. 1 School of Biological and Food Engineering, Suzhou University, Suzhou, Anhui 234000
    2 College of Life Sciences, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an 710119
    3 School of Life Sciences, Anqing Normal University, Anqing, Anhui 246011
  • Received:2015-09-11 Accepted:2016-03-12 Online:2016-06-20 Published:2016-06-20
  • Contact: Zhao Liang,Duan Renyan


Understanding how overall patterns of spatial variation in species richness are affected by species distributional is one of the key questions in species diversity research. In the present study, we investigated the relative contributions of common and rare species to overall plant species richness in the Liaodong oak (Quercus wutaishanica) forest, which is located in the Ziwu Mountains of Loess Plateau, northwestern China. Based on species frequency distribution, we developed rank sequences of the most common to the most rare and the most rare to the most common species. We then correlated the rank sequences with cumulative species distributions. Our results showed that common species had a higher correlation with the cumulative species distribution in comparison with rare species. Moreover, common species had stronger effects on species α diversity and species β diversity as compared with rare species. Although the number of rare species was greater than that of common species, the overall species richness pattern was better predicted by common species than rare species. Therefore, common species were confirmed to be good indicators of species richness pattern and need to be protected priority.

Key words: α, diversity, β, diversity, species frequency distribution, Loess Plateau