Individual size variation reduces spatial variation in abundance of tree community assemblage, not of tree populations.
ABSTRACT: Research on individual trait variation has gained much attention because of its implication for ecosystem functions and community ecology. The effect of individual variation on population and community abundance (number of individuals) variation remains scarcely tested. Using two established ecological scaling laws (Taylor's law and abundance-size relationship), we derived a new scaling relationship between the individual size variation and spatial variation of abundance. Tested against multi-plot tree data from Diaoluo Mountain tropical forest in Hainan, China, the new scaling relationship showed that individual size variation reduced the spatial variation of community assemblage abundance, but not of taxon-specific population abundance. The different responses of community and population to individual variation were reflected by the validity of the abundance-size relationship. We tested and confirmed this scaling framework using two measures of individual tree size: aboveground biomass and diameter at breast height. Using delta method and height-diameter allometry, we derived the analytic relation of scaling exponents estimated under different individual size measures. In addition, we used multiple regression models to analyze the effect of taxon richness on the relationship between individual size variation and spatial variation of population or community abundance, for taxon-specific and taxon-mixed data, respectively. This work offers empirical evidence and a scaling framework for the negative effect of individual trait variation on spatial variation of plant community. It has implications for forest ecosystem and management where the role of individual variation in regulating population or community spatial variation is important but understudied.
PROVIDER: S-EPMC5743614 | BioStudies |