Phylogenetic diversity (PD, the diversity of lineages) and functional diversity (FD, the diversity of functional traits or groups in a biological community) reflect important yet poorly understood attributes of species assemblages. Until recently, few studies have examined the spatial variation of PD and FD in natural communities. Yet the relationships between PD and FD and area (termed PDAR and FDAR), like the analogous species–area relationship (SAR), have received less attention and may provide insights into the mechanisms that shape the composition and dynamics of ecological communities. In this study, we used four spatial point process models to evaluate the likely roles of the random placement of species, habitat filtering, dispersal limitation, and the combined effects of habitat filtering and dispersal limitation in producing observed PDARs and FDARs in two large, fully mapped temperate forest research plots in northeast China and in north-central USA. We found that the dispersal limitation hypothesis provided a good approximation of the accumulation of PD and FD with increasing area, as it did for the species area curves. PDAR and FDAR patterns were highly correlated with the SAR. We interpret this as evidence that species interactions, which are often influenced by phylogenetic and functional similarity, may be relatively unimportant in structuring temperate forest tree assemblages at this scale. However, the scale-dependent departures of the PDAR and FDAR that emerged for the dispersal limitation hypothesis agree with operation of competitive exclusion at small scales and habitat filtering at larger scales. Our analysis illustrates how emergent community patterns in fully mapped temperate forest plots can be influenced by multiple underlying processes at different spatial scales.