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Data from: Commonness, rarity and oligarchies of woody plants in the tropical dry forests of Mexico


Williams, John N.; Trejo, Irma; Schwartz, Mark W. (2017), Data from: Commonness, rarity and oligarchies of woody plants in the tropical dry forests of Mexico, Dryad, Dataset,


We assessed woody plant communities in two widely separated forests in the tropical dry forest (TDF) biome of Mexico for evidence of similar patterns of species commonness and rarity. We used belt transects laid out along contour lines (i.e., constant elevation) and stratified across elevation gradients at sites in Jalisco and Oaxaca to sample woody plant species diversity, abundance, relative frequency and basal area. We assembled a combined species list and compared species found in both sites (shared) to species found in only one site, assessing whether the most and least common species at a site tended to be shared or unshared. Of the 8242 individuals sampled, 370 species or morpho-species were identified, with 222 species recorded at the Jalisco site and 270 at the Oaxaca site—122 (33%) species were shared across sites. Abundance, frequency and basal area of shared species were greater on average than for unshared species, and were positively correlated across sites. A subset of 68 shared species (18%) accounted for over half of all individuals encountered at the two sites. Species in the most common quartile were more likely to be shared than expected by chance, while species in the least common quartile were less likely. A genus-level analysis found similar patterns. Our findings suggest that the TDF of Pacific coast Mexico shows evidence of widespread dominance by a small subset of species. These findings have potentially important implications for predicting species composition, understanding the role of oligarchic species in ecological processes, and conserving rare species.

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