, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 297-304
Date: 09 Mar 2005

Local coexistence of tree species and the dynamics of global distribution pattern along an environmental gradient: a simulation study

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A spatially explicit tree-based model was used to demonstrate the effects of a mechanism promoting multiple-species coexistence on the development of vegetation zonation and its response to climate change. Temporal fluctuation in reproduction was incorporated as the mechanism, which facilitates the persistence of less competitive species. Four hypothetical tree species with different temperature dependencies of seed production were randomly located over a landscape represented by 2,000×40 cells. Each cell can sustain a single tree at most. A zonal distribution pattern emerged corresponding to the temperature gradient along the long axis of the landscape. When there was a temporal variation in seed production, species became distributed over a wider range than that when seed production was constant. When the whole landscape was warmed, the distribution range of each species shifted towards the cool end of the landscape. However, the migration was retarded due to competition for vacant spaces with the remnant species which had dominated the location before the warming. Temporal fluctuation in reproduction facilitated the migration because it enhanced the persistence of minority species and, thus, the invasion and establishment of new species in the area dominated by other species.