Ecological processes maintaining differential tree species distributions in an Australian subtropical rain forest: implications for models of species coexistence

I Debski, D F R P Burslem, D Lamb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

All stems greater than or equal to 1 cm dbh were measured, tagged, mapped and identified on a 1-ha plot of rain forest at Gambubal State Forest, south-east Queensland, Australia. The spatial patterns and size class distributions of 11 common tree species on the plot were assessed to search for mechanisms determining their distribution and abundance. The forest was species-poor in comparison to many lowland tropical forests and the common species are therefore present at relatively high densities. Despite this, only limited evidence was found for the operation of density-dependent processes at Gambubal. Daphnandra micrantha saplings were clumped towards randomly spaced adults, indicating a shift of distribution over time caused by differential mortality of saplings in these adult associated clumps. Ordination of the species composition in 25-m x 25-m subplots revealed vegetation gradients at that scale, which corresponded to slope across the plot. Adult basal area was dominated by a few large individuals of Sloanea woollsii but the comparative size class distributions and replacement probabilities of the 11 common species suggest that the forest will undergo a transition to a more mixed composition if current conditions persist. The current cohort of large S. woollsii individuals probably established after a large-scale disturbance event and the forest has not attained an equilibrium species composition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-415
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Tropical Ecology
Volume16
Publication statusPublished - 2000

Keywords

  • density-dependence
  • spatial distribution
  • tropical trees
  • Sloanea woollsii
  • Queensland
  • NEOTROPICAL FOREST
  • TROPICAL FORESTS
  • DIVERSITY
  • RECRUITMENT
  • PATTERNS
  • DISPERSION
  • MORTALITY
  • DISTANCE
  • DENSITY
  • ADULTS

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