Reproducing static and dynamic biodiversity patterns in tropical forests: The critical role of environmental variance
Ecological communities are subjected to stochasticity in the form of demographic and environmental variance. Stochastic models that contain only demographic variance (neutral models) provide close quantitative fits to observed species‐abundance distributions (SADs) but substantially underestimate observed temporal species‐abundance fluctuations. To provide a holistic assessment of whether models with demographic and environmental variance perform better than neutral models, the fit of both to SADs and temporal species‐abundance fluctuations at the same time has to be tested quantitatively. In this study, we quantitatively test how closely a model with demographic and environmental variance reproduces total numbers of species, total abundances, SADs and temporal species‐abundance fluctuations for two tropical forest tree communities, using decadal data from long‐term monitoring plots and considering individuals larger than two size thresholds for each community. We find that the model can indeed closely reproduce these static and dynamic patterns of biodiversity in the two communities for the two size thresholds, with better overall fits than corresponding neutral models. Therefore, our results provide evidence that stochastic models incorporating demographic and environmental variance can simultaneously capture important static and dynamic biodiversity patterns arising in tropical forest communities.