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Investigating distribution pattern of species in a warm-temperate conifer-broadleaved-mixed forest in China for sustainably utilizing forest and soils

Song, Houjuan, Xu, Yudan, Hao, Jing, Zhao, Bingqing, Guo, Donggang, Shao, Hongbo
The Science of the total environment 2017 v.578 pp. 81-89
Pinus tabuliformis, Quercus, Rosa xanthina, altitude, biogeography, correspondence analysis, forest soils, habitat preferences, habitats, rare species, shade tolerance, shrubs, spatial distribution, species diversity, temperate forests, trees, China
The maintaining mechanisms and potential ecological processes of species diversity in warm temperate- conifer-broadleaved-mixed forest are far from clear understanding. In this paper, the relative neighborhood density Ω was used to analyze the spatial distribution patterns of 34 species with ≥11 individuals in a warm- temperate-conifer-broadleaved-mixed forest, northern China. Then we used canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) and Torus-translation test (TTT) to explain the distribution of observed species. Our results show that aggregated distribution is the dominant pattern in warm-temperate natural forest and four species regular distribution at the spatial scale >30m. The aggregated percentage and intensity decline with spatial scale, abundance and size classes increasing. Rare species are aggregated more than intermediate and abundant species. These results prove sufficiently the effects existence of scale separation, self-thinning and Janzen-Connell hypothesis. In addition, functional traits (dispersal modes and shade tolerance) also have a significant influence on distribution of species. The results of CCA confirm that slope and convexity are the most important factors affecting the distribution of tree species distribution, elevation and slope of shrub species though the combination of topographic variables only explained 1% of distribution of tree species and 2% of shrub species. Most species don't have habitat preference; however 47.1% (16/34) species including absolutely dominant tree (Pinus tabulaeformis and Quercus wutaishanica) and shrub species (Rosa xanthina) and most other species with important value in the front, are strongly positively or negatively associated with at least one habitat. The valley and ridge are most distinct habitat with association of 12 species in the plot. However, high elevation slope with 257 quadrats is the most extensive habitat with only four species. Therefore, there is obvious evidence that habitat heterogeneity play an important role on shaping spatial distribution of species in warm temperate forest. Our research results provide significant evidence that dispersal limitation and habitat heterogeneity have a contribution jointly to regulating the spatial distribution pattern of species in warm-temperate-forest in China.