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The Herbaceous Layer in Forests of Eastern North America$
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Frank Gilliam

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199837656

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199837656.001.0001

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Habitat Heterogeneity and Maintenance of Species in Understory Communities

Habitat Heterogeneity and Maintenance of Species in Understory Communities

Chapter:
(p.215) 8 Habitat Heterogeneity and Maintenance of Species in Understory Communities
Source:
The Herbaceous Layer in Forests of Eastern North America
Author(s):

Susan W. Beatty

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199837656.003.0008

This chapter examines the effects of four factors in determining the species composition and richness of northeastern deciduous forest communities in the context of spatially and temporally heterogeneous environments. These factors are disturbance, patterns in physical factors (soils, microclimate), biological processes (e.g., competition, dispersal, colonization, and extinction), and history (land use, anthropogenic impacts, and successional age). In most cases, spatial heterogeneity appears to provide a means by which species are maintained in the community. This maintenance may be a result of the presence of a specialized microsite in which a species finds a tolerable environment with minimal competition (pits), or the presence of a keystone competitor in a rich microsite (mounds) that allows coexistence of numerous species with lower population sizes by preventing other potential dominants from exerting greater influence.

Keywords:   heterogeneity, species composition, species richness, forest communities, disturbance, physical factors, biological processes

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