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The Use of Plant-to-Neighbour Distances for the Detection of Competition

E. C. Pielou
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 50, No. 2 (Jul., 1962), pp. 357-367
DOI: 10.2307/2257448
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2257448
Page Count: 11
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The Use of Plant-to-Neighbour Distances for the Detection of Competition
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Abstract

1. In an aggregated plant population, the pattern within high density patches may be regular owing to competition. Tests for pattern, applied to the whole population, will usually indicate only the overall aggregation, and will not reveal the localized regularity. 2. Evidence as to whether or not competition is taking place may be obtained by collecting a sample of the short plant-to-nearest-neighbour distances only. Such a truncated sample of distances may be compared with a truncated theoretical distribution. 3. Certain simplifying assumptions as to the form of the distribution of these distances may be made. It is then possible to estimate the minimum distance which must separate any pair of plants if both are to attain a definite size. 4. The test for interplant competition was applied to five natural populations of forest trees. Three gave clear evidence that competition was occurring, and for these the minimum interplant distances were estimated.

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