Question: Do, in a semi-arid gypsum environment, neighbours condition the spatial patterns of emergence, survival and height of Helianthemum squamatum seedlings ?
Location: Vicinity of Chinchón, province of Madrid, Spain (40°11′N, 3° 35′W, 550 m a.s.l.)
Methods: We evaluated the effects of neighbours on the survival and growth of naturally emerging Helianthemum seedlings in a semi-arid area during a two-year period. We followed a two-fold approach based on the use of neighbour models for seedling survival and growth and spatial point pattern analyses for seedling emergence, taking into account the germination date.
Results: Seedlings appeared clumped in the vicinity of mature Helianthemum individuals. The neighbour models fitted showed that interactions with neighbours were extremely important for the survival and growth of Helianthemum seedlings. These models also suggest that the effects of neighbours on these variables vary with changes in spatial scale and in the abiotic conditions. Some species exerted negative or positive effects on Helianthemum seedlings only at certain spatial scales, and others exerted negative or positive effects at earlier stages of seedling development, but none later and vice versa.
Conclusions: We suggest that the observed patterns are mainly influenced by small-scale modifications in soil conditions and microclimate created by neighbours, which change in time and space.
Nomenclature: Castroviejo (1986–2004).
Abbreviations: GLM = Generalized linear model.