Held tests of neighborhood population dynamic models of two annual weed species

Stephen W. Pacala, J. A. Silander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


We report the results of a 4-yr study of the community dynamics of the annual weed species Abutilon theophrasti (velvet leaf) and Amaranthus retroflexus (pig-weed). We calibrated neighborhood population dynamic models for communities of these species in the field and then tested the predictions of the calibrated models against census data from independent observations. We also analyzed the calibrated and tested models to predict long-term dynamics and to assess how spatially local interactions, growth, fecundity, survivorship, germination, seed dormancy, and dispersal each contribute to the community's dynamics and structure. We show that calibrated neighborhood models accurately predict dynamics in the field over a 4-yr period. Because the predictive spatial models reduce approximately to simple nonspatial models of competition, the spatial processes that govern the dynamics of velvet leaf and pigweed communities behave as simple nonspatial processes. The models predict that velvet leaf will eventually exclude pigweed because of an asymmetry in the magnitude of inter-individual interference affecting growth. We also show that velvet leaf monocultures would oscillate perpetually in the absence of delayed germination and that demographic stochasticity (May 1971) has little effect on the dynamics of the experimental species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-134
Number of pages22
JournalEcological Monographs
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


  • Annuals
  • Competition
  • Germination
  • Heterogeneity
  • Models
  • Neighborhood
  • Old field


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