Miranda, A., Carvalho, L.M. & Dionisio, F. (2015) Lower within-community variance of negative density dependence increases forest diversity.PLOS One, 10, e0127260. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0127260 (IF2015 3,057; Q1 Multidisciplinary Sciences)
Local abundance of adult trees impedes growth of conspecific seedlings through host-specific enemies, a mechanism first proposed by Janzen and Connell to explain plant diversity in forests. While several studies suggest the importance of this mechanism, there is still little information of how the variance of negative density dependence (NDD) affects diversity of forest communities. With computer simulations, we analyzed the impact of strength and variance of NDD within tree communities on species diversity. We show that stronger NDD leads to higher species diversity. Furthermore, lower range of strengths of NDD within a community increases species richness and decreases variance of species abundances. Our results show that, beyond the average strength of NDD, the variance of NDD is also crucially important to explain species diversity. This can explain the dissimilarity of biodiversity between tropical and temperate forest: highly diverse forests could have lower NDD variance. This report suggests that natural enemies and the variety of the magnitude of their effects can contribute to the maintenance of biodiversity.