Data from: Demographic properties shape tree size distribution in a Malaysian rain forest
Kohyama, Takashi S. et al. (2014), Data from: Demographic properties shape tree size distribution in a Malaysian rain forest, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.bb460
Different mechanisms have been proposed to explain how vertical and horizontal heterogeneity in light conditions enhances tree species coexistence in forest ecosystems. The foliage partitioning theory proposes that differentiation in vertical foliage distribution, caused by an interspecific variation in mortality-to-growth ratio, promotes stable coexistence. In contrast, successional niche theory posits that horizontal light heterogeneity, caused by gap dynamics, enhances species coexistence through an interspecific trade-off between growth rate and survival. To distinguish between these theories of species coexistence, we analyzed tree inventory data for 370 species from the 50-ha plot in Pasoh Forest Reserve, Malaysia. We used community-wide Bayesian models to quantify size-dependent growth rate and mortality of every species. We compared the observed size distributions and the projected distributions from size-dependent demographic rates. We found that the observed size distributions were not simply correlated with the rate of population increase but were related to demographic properties such as size growth rate and mortality. Species with low relative abundance of juveniles in size distribution showed high growth rate and low mortality at small tree sizes and low per-capita recruitment rate. Overall, our findings were in accordance with those predicted by foliage partitioning theory.