Research Paper

Spatial Autocorrelation Patterns of Understory Plant Species in a Subtropical Rainforest at Lanjenchi, Southern Taiwan

Su-Wei Fan and Chang-Fu Hsieh

Published on: 15 June 2010

DOI: 10.6165/tai.2010.55(2).160

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2010 vol.55 no.2 pp.160-171


Many studies described relationships between plant species and intrinsic or exogenous factors, but few quantified spatial scales of species patterns. In this study, quantitative methods were used to explore the spatial scale of understory species (including resident and transient species), in order to identify the influential factors of species distribution. Resident species (including herbaceous species, climbers and tree ferns < 1 m high) were investigated on seven transects, each 5-meter wide and 300-meter long, at Lanjenchi plot in Nanjenshan Reserve, southern Taiwan. Transient species (seedling of canopy, subcanopy and shrub species < 1 cm diameter at breast height) were censused in three of the seven transects. The herb coverage and seedling abundance were calculated for each 5 × 5 m quadrat along the transects, and Moran’s I and Galiano’s new local variance (NLV) indices were then used to identify the spatial scale of autocorrelation for each species. Patterns of species abundance of understory layer varied among species at fine scale within 50 meters. Resident species showed a higher proportion of significant autocorrelation than the transient species. Species with large size or prolonged fronds or stems tended to show larger scales in autocorrelation. However, dispersal syndromes and fruit types did not relate to any species’ spatial patterns. Several species showed a significant autocorrelation at a 180-meter class which happened to correspond to the local replicates of topographical features in hilltops. The spatial patterns of understory species at Lanjenchi plot are mainly influenced by species’ intrinsic traits and topographical characteristics.



Keyword: Spatial autocorrelation, Moran’s I, new local variance (NLV), herbaceous species, seedlings and functional traits.