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Fine-Scale Predictability of Forest Community Dynamics

Mark R. Fulton and Paul A. Harcombe
Ecology
Vol. 83, No. 5 (May, 2002), pp. 1204-1208
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/3071935
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3071935
Page Count: 5
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Fine-Scale Predictability of Forest Community Dynamics
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Abstract

We assayed the predictability of forest community dynamics by examining the internal structure of a 10-12-yr record of forest change for three sites in east Texas, USA. Within each site, the growth and fate of all adult tree stems within many small (0.04 ha) patches have been monitored. These data were reduced to community composition (basal area by species) for each of 28-30 spatially independent patches within each site. We measured predictability of compositional change by the rank correlation of (1) distances between vectors of initial composition vs. (2) distances between vectors of compositional change. Vectors of compositional change were predictable at two of the three sites; the third site was an old forest with somewhat high mortality of large adult stems. The data also allowed decomposition of the change vectors into components due to growth, mortality, and adult tree recruitment. Growth vectors were highly predictable from the initial composition, but mortality and adult tree recruitment were not. The results support the idea that growth processes in forests are closely tied to interactions among adjacent trees, whereas recruitment and mortality have components that operate at different spatial or temporal scales and so are empirically decoupled from growth.

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