Biodiv Sci ›› 2013, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (1): 80-89.  DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.10132

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Analysis of plant abundance-based association between community species composition and environmental properties

Yiming Xie1,2, Yue Xu1,2, Meng Kang1,2, Enrong Yan1,2,*()   

  1. 1 Department of Environmental Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062
    2 Tiantong National Station of Forest Ecosystem, Chinese National Ecosystem Observation and Research Network, Ningbo, Zhejiang 315114
  • Received:2012-06-20 Accepted:2012-12-05 Online:2013-01-20 Published:2013-02-04
  • Contact: Yan Enrong


Revealing associations between species composition and environmental characteristics is crucial for understanding species coexistence. In past studies, traditional ecological species groups have been classified subjectively, and the associations between species groups and environment characteristics were not determined quantitatively. In this study, we evaluated environmental relationships of plant species composition among 31 plant communities within different habitats in Tiantong region, Zhejiang Province. Maximum, actual, and relative environmental dependence indices were defined respectively on the basis of plant abundance. We tested the actual association between species composition and environment using a random null hypothesis. The community type-environmental association was confirmed by Pearson correlation between relative environmental dependence index and Mahalanobis distance. The results showed that: (1) the maximum environmental dependence index is an idex of premium community type’s combination from randomization under current conditions and actual environmental dependence, which may be used to indicate preference of species composition to actual habitat conditions. The association between species composition and environmental characteristics may be denoted effectively by the relative environmental dependence index; (2) the relative environmental dependence index did not correlate with most single environmental variables, but significantly correlated with Mahalanobis distance; and (3) if habitat properties were more heterogeneous, species composition-environment association was more unique. These findings provide new evidence for relationships between plant species composition and environment characteristics in the evergreen broad-leaved forests in Tiantong region and an ameliorative reference for how to quantitatively determine species-environmental associations.

Key words: species composition, environmental dependence, stochastic process, ecological species group, community type, Mahalanobis distance