The relative importance of seed competition, resource competition and perturbations on community structure
- 1Max Planck Institut für Biogeochemie, P.O. Box 10 01 64, 07701 Jena, Germany
- 2Biogeographical Modelling, BayCEER, University of Bayreuth, Universitätsstrasse 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
- 3International Max Planck Research School on Earth System Modelling, Hamburg, Germany
- 4Institute of Geography, University Bonn, Bonn, Germany
Abstract. While the regional climate is the primary selection pressure for whether a plant strategy can survive, however, competitive interactions strongly affect the relative abundances of plant strategies within communities. Here, we investigate the relative importance of competition and perturbations on the development of vegetation community structure. To do so, we develop DIVE (Dynamics and Interactions of VEgetation), a simple general model that links plant strategies to their competitive dynamics, using growth and reproduction characteristics that emerge from climatic constraints. The model calculates population dynamics based on establishment, mortality, invasion and exclusion in the presence of different strengths of perturbations, seed and resource competition. The highest levels of diversity were found in simulations without competition as long as mortality is not too high. However, reasonable successional dynamics were only achieved when resource competition is considered. Under high levels of competition, intermediate levels of perturbations were required to obtain coexistence. Since succession and coexistence are observed in plant communities, we conclude that the DIVE model with competition and intermediate levels of perturbation represents an adequate way to model population dynamics. Because of the simplicity and generality of DIVE, it could be used to understand vegetation structure and functioning at the global scale and the response of vegetation to global change.