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Importance of topography and soil texture in the spatial distribution of two sympatric dipterocarp trees in a Bornean rainforest


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Relationships between spatial distributions and site conditions, namely topography and soil texture, were analyzed for two congeneric emergent trees, Dryobalanops aromatica and Dryobalanops lanceolata (Dipterocarpaceae), in a tropical rainforest in Sarawak, East Malaysia. A 52-ha permanent plot was divided into 1300 quadrats measuring 20 m × 20 m; for each Dryobalanops species, the number and total basal area of trees ≥1 cm in d.b.h. were compared among groups of quadrats with different site conditions. Because spatial distributions of both Dryobalanops and site-condition variables were aggregated, Monte-Carlo permutation tests were applied to analyze the relationships. Both single and multifactor statistical tests showed that the density and basal area distributions of the two species were significantly non-random in relation to soil texture and topographic variables. D. aromatica was significantly more abundant at higher elevations, in sandy soils, and on convex and steep slopes. In contrast, D. lanceolata preferred lower elevations and less sandy soils. In the study plot, there were very few sites (3 of 1150 quadrats tested) where the models of Hayashi's method predicted the co-occurrence of the two species. These results suggest that between-species differences in habitat preferences are so large that they alone explain the spatially segregated distributions of these two species within the 52-ha study plot.