Comparing woody plant seedling composition and distribution patterns under different sampling intensities in the 24 ha Gutianshan forest dynamics plot

GUO Yin1,2 WANG Yunquan1,2 CHEN Lei2 MI Xiangcheng2 REN Haibao2 CHEN Shengwen3 CHEN Jianhua1

(1.College of Chemistry and Life Sciences, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, Zhejiang 321004)
(2.State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093)
(3.Gutianshan National Nature Reserve Administrative Bureau, Kaihua, Zhejiang 324300)

【Abstract】As the seedling stage is the bottleneck in forest tree regeneration, knowledge of the composition and structure of seedlings is crucial to understanding the mechanisms of community assemblage and diversity maintenance. However, based on the limited sampling intensity which is common in previous studies, seedling census datasets are representative of common species, but are ineffective for monitoring rare species. In this study, we established a new seedling monitoring network in the 24 ha GTS (GTS) forest dynamics plot (FDP) consisting of 285 seedling quadrats (5 m × 5 m) in 2012. In the seedling quadrats, all woody plants (DBH < 1 cm and height ≥ 10 cm) were tagged, mapped and measured every two years. We used the first census data to investigate seedling composition, species diversity patterns, seedling, and non-seedling species habitat association. Our results are as follows. (1) There were 138 species, consisting of a total of 20,581 individuals in 285 seedling quadrats of 5 m × 5 m. The Shannon-Wiener diversity index and Rarefied species abundance were higher than those of the 1 m × 1 m seedling quadrats and 24 ha FDP census (DBH ≥ 1 cm). Similar results were found when using rarefaction approach. Compared with 1 m × 1 m seedling quadrats, the number of species showed a significant increase and the species-area curve became more asymptotic. (2) The relationship between seedling abundance and tree species exhibited negative allometry, suggesting that the mortality of plants at the seedling stage was relatively high compared with the rate found at the non-seedling stage due to the negative density dependence. (3) Sampling intensity and selection of DBH cutoffs influence the definition of rare species. Some rare species defined by trees with DBH ≥ 1 cm were not actually rare when individuals with DBH < 1 cm were considered (i.e., Ardisia crenata, Litsea cubeba, Lespedeza thunbergii subsp. formosa). (4) The indicator species of the 5 m × 5 m seedling quadrats were different from those found in the 24 ha FDP and the 1 m × 1 m seedling census. A total of 13 species were significantly correlated with single habitat type in these 5 m × 5 m seedling quadrats, which shared only three species that identified as indicator species for 1 m × 1 m seedling quadrats and two species for non-seedling quadrats. In conclusion, sampling intensity influenced patterns of tree seedling composition and community diversity, and increasing sampling intensity can provide deeper insights into the processes of diversity maintenance.

【Keywords】 Gutianshan (GTS) ; woody plant seedling; sampling intensity; rare species; mechanisms of maintenance of species diversity;


【Funds】 General Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China (31270495)

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(Translated by PAN Y)


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This Article


CN: 11-3247/Q

Vol 24, No. 10, Pages 1093-1104

October 2016


Article Outline


  • 1 Materials and methods
  • 2 Results
  • 3 Discussion
  • Supplementary materials
  • References