Landscape Ecology

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 559-568

First online:

Scale dependence of tree abundance and richness in a tropical rain forest, Malaysia

  • Fangliang HeAffiliated withCanadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre
  • , James V. LaFrankieAffiliated withCenter for Tropical Forest Science, National Institute of Education
  • , Bo SongAffiliated withBelle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, Clemson University

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Abundance and richness are the two fundamental components of speciesdiversity. They represent two distinct types of variables of which the formerisadditive when aggregated across scales while the latter is nonadditive. Thisstudy investigated the changes in the spatial patterns of abundance andrichnessof tree species across multiple scales in a tropical rain forest of Malaysiaandtheir variations in different regions of the study area. The results showedthatfrom fine to coarse scales abundance had a gradual and systematic change inpattern, whereas the change in richness was much less predictable and a‘hotspot’ in richness at one scale may become a‘coldspot’ at another. The study also demonstrated that differentmeasures of diversity variation (e.g., variance and coefficient of variation)can result in different or even contradictory results which further complicatedthe interpretation of diversity patterns. Because of scale effect the commonlyused measure of species diversity in terms of unit area (e.g.,species/m2) is misleading and of little use in comparing speciesdiversitybetween different ecosystems. Extra care must be taken if management andconservation of species diversity have to be based on information gathered at asingle scale.

Diversity mapping Grain size Malaysia Spatial variation Tropical rain forest