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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Spatial patterns of correlation between conspecific species and size diversity in forest ecosystems

Wang, Hongxiang; Zhang, Xiaohong; Hu, Yanbo; Pommerening, Arne


Recently correlations between spatial species and size diversity have been found in many forest ecosystems around the world. They are likely to play a prominent role in nature's mechanisms of maintaining species and size diversity. In this study, we analysed the species population means of spatial species-mingling and sizeinequality indices in 36 large forest monitoring plots from the temperate and subtropical zones in China. Based on the literature we included eleven diversity-index combinations and considered their correlations for increasing numbers of nearest neighbours. Generally, positive correlations are related to between-species population size differences whilst negative correlations reflect within-species population size differences. Our results showed that the selected species-mingling and size-inequality indices produced different correlation patterns in one and the same monitoring site. We therefore defined a species-mingling size-inequality correlation space by computing the 0.025 and the 0.975 quantiles from the correlation data of the eleven index combinations. We noticed that each observed correlation space included 1-3 combinations of five basic geometric types and can be interpreted as the unique signature of a forest ecosystem in time. The correlation space allowed us to understand more clearly at which spatial scale within-species correlation was more influential than between-species inequality and vice versa. The shape of the correlation space is interpretable and gives important clues about the forest development stage of a forest ecosystem.


Mingling-size hypothesis; Diversity indices; Correlation space; Neighbourhood indices; Size dominance; Forest development stage; Diversity loss

Published in

Ecological Modelling
2021, volume: 457, article number: 109678
Publisher: ELSEVIER

Authors' information

Wang, Hongxiang
Guangxi University
Zhang, Xiaohong
Chinese Academy of Forestry
Hu, Yanbo
Research Institute of Forestry, CAF
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Resource Management

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