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Neighborhood and community interactions determine the spatial pattern of tropical tree seedling survival

Queenborough, S.A., Burslem, D.F.R.P., Garwood, N.C. and Valencia, R. (2007) Neighborhood and community interactions determine the spatial pattern of tropical tree seedling survival. Ecology, 88 (9). pp. 2248-2258. ISSN 0012-9658


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Factors affecting survival and recruitment of 3531 individually mapped seedlings of Myristicaceae were examined over three years in a highly diverse neotropical rain forest, at spatial scales of 1–9 m and 25 ha. We found convincing evidence of a community compensatory trend (CCT) in seedling survival (i.e., more abundant species had higher seedling mortality at the 25-ha scale), which suggests that density-dependent mortality may contribute to the spatial dynamics of seedling recruitment. Unlike previous studies, we demonstrate that the CCT was not caused by differences in microhabitat preferences or life history strategy among the study species. In local neighborhood analyses, the spatial autocorrelation of seedling survival was important at small spatial scales (1–5 m) but decayed rapidly with increasing distance. Relative seedling height had the greatest effect on seedling survival. Conspecific seedling density had a more negative effect on survival than heterospecific seedling density and was stronger and extended farther in rare species than in common species. Taken together, the CCT and neighborhood analyses suggest that seedling mortality is coupled more strongly to the landscape-scale abundance of conspecific large trees in common species and the local density of conspecific seedlings in rare species. We conclude that negative density dependence could promote species coexistence in this rain forest community but that the scale dependence of interactions differs between rare and common species.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2007 Ecological Society America. This is an author produced version of a paper published in Ecology. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Biological Sciences (Sheffield) > Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Sherpa Assistant
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2007 10:28
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2013 16:55
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/06-0737.1
Status: Published
Publisher: Ecological Society America
Identification Number: 10.1890/06-0737.1
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3465

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