Carlos Martorell and Robert P. Freckleton
Our results, taken together with recent studies on tropical forests, suggest that weak interactions among established plants may be a general phenomenon, but that local interactions during colonization are important drivers of community composition. Most of the variance in species abundance in our community was explained by intraspecific competition and stochasticity, with interspecific interactions playing a minor role due to their overall weakness, interaction changes over ontogeny, and the cancellation of opposite-sign interactions when all the species in the community are considered. Despite this, some species were rare seemingly because they cannot withstand interspecific competition. Thus, to untangle the effects of interactions on community structure, future research should focus on interactions occurring at different phases of population growth and on whole communities.