UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Spatial Distribution and Ecological Determinants of Coexisting Hybrid Oak Species: A Study in Yushan’s Mixed Forest Li, Xuan; Li, Yongfu; El-Kassaby, Yousry A.; Fang, Yanming

Abstract

Ecological niche partitioning is crucial in reducing interspecific competition, fostering species coexistence, and preserving biodiversity. Our research, conducted in a hybrid mixed oak forest in Yushan, Jiangsu, China, focuses on Quercus acutissima, Q. variabilis, Q. fabri, and Q. serrata var. brevipetiolata. Using Point Pattern Analysis, we investigated the spatial relationships and ecological trait autocorrelation, including total carbon (TC), nitrogen (TN), phosphorus (TP), potassium (TK), and breast height diameter (DBH). Our findings show aggregated distribution patterns within the oak populations. The Inhomogeneous Poisson Point model highlights the impact of environmental heterogeneity on Q. variabilis, leading to distinct distribution patterns, while other species showed wider dispersion. This study reveals aggregated interspecific interactions, with a notable dispersal pattern between Q. acutissima and Q. variabilis. We observed significant variability in nutrient elements, indicating distinct nutrient dynamics and uptake processes. The variations in total carbon (TC), nitrogen (TN), phosphorus (TP), and potassium (TK) suggest distinct nutrient dynamics, with TK showing the highest variability. Despite variations in TC, TK, and TP, the species did not form distinct classes, suggesting overlapping nutritional strategies and environmental adaptations. Furthermore, spatial autocorrelation analysis indicates strong positive correlations for DBH, TC, and TP, whereas TK and TN correlations are non-significant. The results suggest habitat filtering as a key driver in intraspecific relationships, with a finer spatial scale of ecological niche division through TC and TP, which is crucial for maintaining coexistence among these oak species.

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CC BY 4.0