Journal of Arid Land


Spatial organization of multiple plant species that appears as a non-random distribution of vegetative patches is one of the mostly observed spatial patterns in arid ecosystems. Yet understanding of ecological processes allowing this spatial pattern to emerge through interspecific interactions is still lacking. With a proposed conceptual model involving interspecific trade-offs between species competitive ability and colonization ability, we have argued that within patch abundance dynamics regulated by the mechanisms of competition are strongly influenced by the between patches coloni-zation dynamics that are maintained via this trade-offs and it holds a positive, intraspecific occu-pancy-abundance relationship, in which increased patch occupancy increases species density within inhabiting patches. In a constant environment, while local abundance dynamics approach toward a stable equilibrium point, a fixed spatial arrangement of species can be retained through this coupled dynamics. However, in fluctuating environments where existence of such stable equilibriums is highly uncertain, it may involve continuous transitions from one community state to another as species re-organized themselves over space through the rapid changes in local species abundances. While some of the inhabiting patches are destroyed exogenously or endogenously, or species responses to increasing environmental fluctuations vary increasingly with time, discontinuous transitions into an abrupt, irreversible state of the community dynamics may occur, as with this effect the inherent positive relationship between occupancy and abundance of species is no longer maintained.


spatial organization; competition-colonization tradeoffs; spatial coexistence; occupancy-abundance relationship

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