Individual species–area relationships in temperate coniferous forests

Adrian J. Das, Andrew J. Larson, James A. Lutz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Questions: What drives individual species–area relationships in temperate coniferous forests?. Location: Two 25.6-ha forest plots on the Pacific Slope of North America, one in California, and one in Washington State. Methods: We mapped all trees ≥1 cm in diameter and examined tree species diversity of their local neighbourhoods by calculating the individual species–area relationship for each species and for each of three diameter classes (saplings, mature trees and large-diameter trees). Results: In the California plot, small trees in four of the five major species occurred in neighbourhoods with higher levels of diversity than would be expected at random. In the Washington plot, small trees for four of five abundant species had neighbourhoods with lower than expected diversity at distances ≤5 m for small trees. However, at distances >5 m, all five species showed higher than expected diversity in their neighbourhoods. Larger trees at both plots tended to occur in neighbourhoods with lower than expected diversity, and no large-diameter focal species had neighbourhoods with higher than expected diversity. Conclusion: Diversity and co-existence in temperate conifer-dominated forests do not appear to be the result of random processes. Competitive interactions appear to dominate for the largest trees of most species, resulting in neighbourhoods with lower diversity. For smaller trees, we suggest that a positive response to environmental heterogeneity is the likely driver of neighbourhoods with higher than expected diversity, although we cannot rule out the possibility that facilitation or conspecific negative density dependence (CNDD) also play a role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-324
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Vegetation Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Abies amabilis
  • Abies concolor
  • Pinus lambertiana
  • Smithsonian ForestGEO
  • Tsuga heterophylla
  • Wind River Forest Dynamics Plot
  • Yosemite Forest Dynamics Plot
  • individual species–area relationships
  • species diversity
  • temperate forest


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