J Plant Ecol ›› 2016, Vol. 9 ›› Issue (3): 328-332.doi: 10.1093/jpe/rtv058

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Stochastic processes play more important roles in driving the dynamics of rarer species

Ximei Zhang1,2, Zhichao Pu2, Yuanheng Li3 and Xingguo Han1,4,*   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Forest and Soil Ecology, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wenhua Road 72, Shenhe District, Shenyang 110164, China; 2 School of Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA; 3 Institute of Grassland Research, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Wulanchabu East Street 120, Saihan District, Hohhot 010010, China; 4 State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, NanxinCun 20, Xiangshan, Haidian District, Beijing 100093, China
  • Received:2015-02-27 Accepted:2015-07-14 Online:2015-09-10 Published:2016-05-25
  • Contact: Han, Xingguo E-mail:xghan@ibcas.ac.cn

Abstract: Aims One major goal of modern community ecology is to understand how deterministic and stochastic processes combine to drive community assembly. However, little empirical knowledge is known about how their relative importance varies between common and rare species.
Methods We exploited two 30-year data sets of plant communities in a temperate steppe using two different methods. One is a null model method, and the other is a recently developed direct-calculation method.
Important findings We found that stochastic processes tended to be more important in influencing rare than common species. This finding suggests that stochastic forces may play a more important role in structuring communities with more rare species, providing a possible solution to the debate on the varied importance of deterministic and stochastic processes among different communities.

Key words: competition, ecological drift, grassland, neutral theory, rare species

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