Investigating the existence of assembly rules in coastal vegetation
Nield, A. and Ladd, P. (2007) Investigating the existence of assembly rules in coastal vegetation. In: 11th International Mediterranean Ecosystems (MEDECOS) Conference (2007), 2 - 5 September, Perth, Western Australia.
The search for structure in biological communities, which would suggest that rules exist, that arbitrate which species can co-exist locally, is of central importance to community ecologists (Wilson and Whittaker 1995). Questions such as "what are the constraints on membership in a community" (Temperton and Hobbs 2004) are critical to our understanding of the way species coexist. The search for structure within communities is characterised by the search for assembly rules, whereby species presence or abundance is based on the presence or abundance of several other species, or types of species, and not simply on the response of individual species to the environment (Wilson 1999). However, the evidence for assembly rules is widely regarded as being indirect and is based on the demonstration of non-random patterns, which are interpreted as representing assembly rules (Wilson and Whittaker 1995). In this study the existence of assembly rules is not assumed. However the presence of some sort of community structure can be tested against a null model in which there are no constraints on the local association of species (Wilson and Whittaker 1995). The community structure of a salt marsh and sand heath in Jurien Bay, Western Australia, were examined to see if there was evidence of assembly rules in terms of species richness, favoured states and fine-scale species-pairs associations.
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|Murdoch Affiliation:||School of Environmental Science|
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