Contributions of spatial point process modelling to biodiversity theory
Journal de la Société française de statistique & Revue de statistique appliquée, Volume 148 (2007) no. 1, pp. 9-29.

Recent decades have seen an unprecedented decline in biodiversity that has led to a growing concern about the consequences of biodiversity loss for the functioning of ecosystems. Key research in plant community ecology seeks to reveal the mechanisms that allow a large number of species to coexist and sustain biodiversity. Processes in plant communities are predominantly local and interactions take place in a spatial context. They thus need to be modelled from the individual plants' perspective. Several ecological theories of plant species coexistence have been proposed with niche theory and neutral theory being the most prominent. They differ mainly in the extent to which functional differences between species are considered necessary for preventing competitive exclusion. This results in different predictions about interactions among the plants and between the plants and the environment. Extensive spatially explicit data sets of plant communities have become available. This paper outlines how the theories' predictions may be assessed using spatial point process modelling and how this approach may be suitably applied to these data sets to contribute to the discussion.

Les dernières décennies ont connu une chute de la biodiversité sans précédent, qui soulève des inquiétudes quant à ses conséquences pour le fonctionnement des écosystèmes. Les recherches en écologie des communautés cherchent à établir les mécanismes permetttant la coexistence d'un grand nombre d'espèces et le maintien de la biodiversité. Les processus mis en jeu au sein des communautés végétales sont principalement des interactions locales et prennent place dans un contexte spatial. Ils doivent donc être modélisés à l'échelle des individus. Plusieurs théories ont été proposées pour la coexistence des plantes, parmi lesquelles la théorie de la niche écologique et la théorie neutraliste sont prédominantes. Ces théories diffèrent principalement par le degré auquel les différences fonctionnelles entre espèces sont jugées nécessaires pour limiter l'exclusion compétitive. Il en résulte des prédictions différentes concernant les interactions entre espèces et entre les plantes et l'environnement. De grands jeux de données spatialisées sont à présent disponibles sur des communautés végétales, comportant la localisation de chaque plante. Cet article discute comment les prédictions des différentes théories peuvent être évaluées à l'aide de modèles de processus ponctuels et comment l'approche peut être appliquée à ces jeux de données pour contribuer à la discussion.

Keywords: spatial point processes, multivariate spatial point patterns, biodiversity, plant communities, tropical rainforest
Keywords: processus ponctuels spatialisés, semis de points multivariés, biodiversité, communautés végétales, forêt tropicale humide
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     journal = {Journal de la Soci\'et\'e fran\c{c}aise de statistique & Revue de statistique appliqu\'ee},
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Illian, Janine; Burslem, David. Contributions of spatial point process modelling to biodiversity theory. Journal de la Société française de statistique & Revue de statistique appliquée, Volume 148 (2007) no. 1, pp. 9-29.

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