Abstract. Plant species distributions are generally thought to be chiefly under environmental control, although they may be affected by disturbance events or dispersion properties of the species. The relative importance of these different factors is not easy to evaluate because they often share common spatial patterns, such that an inextricable network of relationships occurs between plant distributions, environmental conditions, disturbance events and endogenous factors such as propagule dispersion. In this paper we propose a method for untangling the common spatial component from the relationship between environmental conditions and the distribution of tree species. Using partial Mantel tests and path analysis, we test models of relationships between these data sets. Results show that in our study area, spatial patterns of species associated with hydric conditions remain largely correlated with environmental conditions. However, mesic sites show more complex forest covers, in which a significant spatial component persists when environmental variation is statistically controlled for. This remaining spatial variability suggests that other factors possessing spatial structure partly explain species distributions.
Journal of Vegetation Science – Wiley
Published: Feb 1, 1992
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