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International Journal of Ecology
Volume 2011, Article ID 596508, 10 pages
Research Article

Scale Expansion of Community Investigations and Integration of the Effects of Abiotic and Biotic Processes on Maintenance of Species Diversity

1College of Life Science, Guizhou University, Guiyang City 550025, China
2State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dry-Land Farming on Loess Plateau, Yangling 712100, China

Received 22 January 2011; Revised 19 June 2011; Accepted 12 July 2011

Academic Editor: Herman Shugart

Copyright © 2011 Zhenhong Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Information on the maintenance of diversity patterns from regional to local scales is dispersed among academic fields due to the local focus of community ecology. To better understand these patterns, the study of ecological communities needs to be expanded to larger scales and the various processes affecting them need to be integrated using a suitable quantitative method. We determined a range of communities on a flora-subregional scale in Yunnan province, China (383210.02 km2). A series of species pools were delimited from the regional to plot scales. Plant diversity was evaluated and abiotic and biotic processes identified at each pool level. The species pool effect was calculated using an innovative model, and the contribution of these processes to the maintenance of plant species diversity was determined and integrated: climate had the greatest effect at the flora-subregional scale, with historical and evolutionary processes contributing ∼11%; climate and human disturbance had the greatest effect at the local site pool scale; competition exclusion and stress limitation explained strong filtering at the successional stage pool scale; biotic processes contributed more on the local community scale than on the regional scale. Scale expansion combined with the filtering model approach solves the local problem in community ecology.