Distribution patterns of tree species in a Malaysian tropical rain forest
Spatial patterns of tree species were studied in a 50‐ha tropical rain forest plot in the Pasoh forest, Malaysia. This forest is characterized by a high diversity and very high number of rare species. Out of the 745 species occurring with > five individuals, 80.4 % had an aggregated distribution, 19.5% were randomly distributed and one species had a regular distribution. The spatial patterns of rare vs. common species, juvenile vs. adult trees, and coarse vs. fine scales were compared. Rare species are generally less aggregated than common ones and most of the randomly distributed species are rare. Spatial patterns shift from high clumping to looser intensity or random distribution when moving from juveniles to adults for the same species. No adult tree species display a regular pattern, however. Regular distributions were rarely found; this is probably due to intraspecific competition at a local scale. There is a negative correlation between per capita death rate and population density.
This study suggests that the Pasoh forest and its high diversity are subjected to multiple controlling factors, e.g., topography, spacing effect, density‐dependent processes and species rarity. The importance of any factor changes across spatial and temporal scales.