A bounded null model explains juvenile tree community structure along light availability gradients in a temperate rain forest

  • Lusk C
  • Chazdon R
  • Hofmann G
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Ecologists have proposed that tree species may coexist by specialising on light environments associated with gaps of different sizes. Remarkably few community-level studies, however, have actually examined juvenile tree distributions along light availability gradients. Here we describe distributions of juvenile trees in relation to canopy openness in a temperate rainforest, and test the hypothesis that competitive sorting causes coexisting species to overlap less in light environment occupancy than would be expected by chance. Average overlap of species’ interquartile ranges on the canopy openness gradient was tested against a bounded domain null model of community structure which used range-size criteria to constrain random placement of species optima. Microsite availability was strongly skewed towards low light, with 43% of microsites occurring at

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