The spatial and temporatal patterns of forest rank abundance distributions in the eastern United States
Trgovac, Andrew B.
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Rank abundance distributions (RAD) and their derived parameters have been used to describe and quantify the ratio of species abundances in an ecological community. The forests of the eastern United States present an opportunity to explore how RADs vary across a large terrestrial data set. The objective of this research is to investigate spatial and temporal patterns in the RADs of forests in the eastern United States. The research will be carried out through three specific aims: (1) determining minimum sampling and data set completeness thresholds to use when comparing rank abundance distributions and derived parameter values between communities, (2) investigate the relationship between the temporal changes in rank abundance distributions and changes in the forest composition, and (3) investigate the spatial patterning and geographic trend of rank abundance distributions as they relate to defined forest types. Results demonstrate that (1) samples of approximately 250 individuals are sufficient to describe the RAD of a community while even slightly incomplete data sets can result in profound differences in the analysis, (2) there are consistent differences in RADS of multiple locations between ca. 1800 AD and present, and (3) spatial trends exist in the in prevalence of the RADs across the eastern United States and significant differences occur in the frequencies of RAD models within different forest types.