Plant Communities (plant + community)

Distribution by Scientific Domains
Distribution within Life Sciences

Kinds of Plant Communities

  • annual plant community
  • diverse plant community
  • grassland plant community
  • herbaceous plant community
  • native plant community
  • natural plant community
  • riparian plant community
  • species-rich plant community
  • terrestrial plant community
  • wetland plant community

  • Terms modified by Plant Communities

  • plant community composition
  • plant community diversity
  • plant community response
  • plant community structure

  • Selected Abstracts

    Seeds: The Ecology of Regeneration in Plant Communities, 2nd edn

    GRASS & FORAGE SCIENCE, Issue 2 2001
    R. J. Pakeman

    Facilitation in the conceptual melting pot

    JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY, Issue 6 2009
    Rob W. Brooker
    Summary 1. Here we present an introduction to this issue's Special Feature arising from the British Ecological Society Symposium: Facilitation in Plant Communities (20,22 April 2009). 2. Papers in the Special Feature demonstrate the benefits that arise from cross-system application of general concepts, for example, the well-known stress gradient hypothesis. Such comparisons challenge our definition of facilitation, as well as our pre-conceptions on the nature of intermediary organisms. 3. We suggest that under some circumstances a clear definition of the two-way nature of interactions is essential, e.g. when considering the evolutionary implications of facilitation. In other cases, however, we can perhaps be more relaxed, e.g. when facilitation is a component of conservation ecology. 4.Synthesis. Overall we believe that establishing facilitation as an independent concept has driven substantial progress towards a clearer understanding of how ecological systems work. Through the links established by work such as that presented in this Special Feature, we believe this field will continue to make rapid progress and aid ecological understanding in general. [source]

    Effects of Native and Non-Native Grassland Plant Communities on Breeding Passerine Birds: Implications for Restoration of Northwest Bunchgrass Prairie

    Patricia L. Kennedy
    Abstract One common problem encountered when restoring grasslands is the prominence of non-native plant species. It is unclear what effect non-native plants have on habitat quality of grassland passerines, which are among the most imperiled groups of birds. In 2004 and 2005, we compared patterns of avian reproduction and the mechanisms that might influence those patterns across a gradient of 13 grasslands in the Zumwalt Prairie in northeastern Oregon that vary in the degree of non-native plant cover (0.9,53.4%). We monitored the fate of 201 nests of all the breeding species in these pastures and found no association of percent non-native cover with nest densities, clutch size, productivity, nest survival, and nestling size. Regardless of the degree of non-native cover, birds primarily fed on Coleoptera, Orthoptera, and Araneae. But as percent non-native cover in the pastures increased, Orthoptera made up a greater proportion of diet and Coleoptera made up a smaller proportion. These diet switches were not the result of changes in terrestrial invertebrate abundance but may be related to decreases in percent bare ground associated with increasing cover of non-native vegetation. Measures of nest crypticity were not associated with cover of non-native vegetation, suggesting that predation risk may not increase with increased cover of non-native vegetation. Thus, the study results show that increased non-native cover is not associated with reduced food supplies or increased predation risk for nesting birds, supporting the growing body of evidence that grasslands with a mix of native and non-native vegetation can provide suitable habitat for native grassland breeding birds. [source]

    Positive Interactions: Crucial Organizers in a Plant Community

    Dong-Liang Cheng
    Abstract For more than a century, ecologists have concentrated on competition as a crucial process for community organization. However, more recent experimental investigations have uncovered the striking influence of positive interactions on the organization of plant communities. Complex combinations of competition and positive interactions operating simultaneously among plant species seem to be widespread in nature. In the present paper, we reviewed the mechanism and ecological importance of positive interactions in plant communities, emphasizing the certainties and uncertainties that have made it an attractive area of research. Positive interactions, or facilitation, occur when one species enhances the survival, growth, or richness of another. The importance of facilitation in plant organization increases with abiotic stress and the relative importance of competition decreases. Only by combining plant interactions and the many fields of biology can we fully understand how and when the positive interactions occur. (Managing editor: Ya-Qin Han) [source]

    Resilience of Native Plant Community Following Manual Control of Invasive Cinchona pubescens in Galápagos

    Heinke Jäger
    As invasive plant species are a major driver of change on oceanic islands, their control is an important challenge for restoration ecology. The post-control recovery of native vegetation is crucial for the treatments to be considered successful, but few studies have evaluated the effects of control measures on both target and non-target species. To investigate the efficiency of manual control of Cinchona pubescens and its impacts on the sub-tropical highland vegetation of Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos, vegetation was sampled before and up to two years after control was carried out in permanent sampling plots. Manual control significantly reduced Cinchona density. Due to regeneration from the seed or bud bank, follow-up control is required, however, for long-term success. Despite heavy disturbance from tree uprooting, herbaceous angiosperms were little affected by the control actions, whereas dominant fern species declined in cover initially. Most native, endemic, and other introduced species regained their pre-control levels of cover 2 years after control; some species even exceeded them. The total number of species significantly increased over the study period, as did species diversity. The native highland vegetation appeared to be resilient, recovering to a level probably more characteristic of the pre-invasion state without human intervention after Cinchona control. However, some introduced species seemed to have been facilitated by the control actions, namely Stachys agraria and Rubus niveus. Further monitoring is needed to confirm the long-term nature of vegetation change in the area. [source]

    Phytosociological study on steppe vegetation in the vicinity of Kharkiv, Ukraine

    GRASSLAND SCIENCE, Issue 2 2006
    Yunxiang Cheng
    Abstract To classify the steppe vegetation of the natural grasslands in the Ukraine from a viewpoint of phytosociology, vegetation investigation was carried out in three relatively homogeneous sites in Kharkiv Province. Plant communities were classified by their characteristic species and differential species on the basis of the floristic composition into two communities, Stipa capillata,Festuca sulcata community and Poa angustifolia,F. sulcata community, and below four lower units. Using the data of three phases of soil in each of the three sites and the detrended correspondence analysis ordination technique, the score of axis 1 correlated most closely with geographical gradient which reflected the soil water condition. This result shows that the S. capillata,F. sulcata community is more tolerant to a dry habitat of the steppe vegetation of the Ukraine. [source]

    Plant communities along environmental gradients of high-arctic mires in Sassendalen, Svalbard

    Archibald W. Vanderpuye
    Elvebakk & Prestrud (1996) for species; Elvebakk (1994) for syntaxa Abstract. The wet to moist bryophyte-dominated vegetation of Sassendalen, Svalbard, was classified into seven communities. These communities were grouped into (1) Cardamino nymanii-Saxifragion foliolosae marsh; (2) Caricion stantis fen; (3) Luzulion nivalis snowbed , including manured vegetation corresponding to moss tundras. All communities have a basically arctic distribution. Marshes are developed in habitats with a water table above the bryophyte vegetation surface and fens on sites with a water table level high above the permafrost but below the bryophyte surface. Moss tundras normally have no standing water table, but in Sassendalen they have a low water table due to their development on less steep slopes than in their normal habitat near bird cliffs. CCA confirms that the standing water level is the prime differentiating factor between the alliances, while aspect favourability and permafrost depth differentiate between the fen communities and temporary desiccation is important for the Catoscopium nigritum community. Carex subspathacea is a characteristic fen species in the absence of other Carex species dominating elsewhere in the Arctic. Arctic marshes are linked to an extremely cold environment. They have a very low species diversity with a few species dominating; Arctophila fulva, Pseudocalliergon trifarium, Scorpidium scorpioides and Warnstorfia tundrae are character species. Moss tundra as defined here appears to be restricted to Svalbard and, probably, neighbouring Novaya Zemlya. This may be due to the absence of rodents and the high seabird density, which is related to the mild sea currents reaching further to the north here and which implies manuring of surrounding ecosystems. Manuring in a very cold environment produces moss carpets with a thin active layer and accumulation of thick peat layers without a standing water level. In Sassendalen the role of arctic seabirds is replaced by Svalbard reindeer which are nonmigratory and are concentrated to favourable grazing areas where their manuring effect is intense. Their long-term manuring effect probably explains the occurrence of moss tundras in this weakly rolling landscape where seabird colonies are absent. [source]

    Effects of defoliation intensity on soil food-web properties in an experimental grassland community

    OIKOS, Issue 2 2001
    Juha Mikola
    We established a greenhouse experiment based on replicated mini-ecosystems to evaluate the effects of defoliation intensity on soil food-web properties in grasslands. Plant communities, composed of white clover (Trifolium repens), perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) and plantain (Plantago lanceolata) with well-established root and shoot systems, were subjected to five defoliation intensity treatments: no trimming (defoliation intensity 0, or DI 0), and trimming of all plant material to 35 cm (DI 1), 25 cm (DI 2), 15 cm (DI 3) and 10 cm (DI 4) above soil surface every second week for 14 weeks. Intensification of defoliation reduced shoot production and standing shoot and root mass of plant communities but increased their root to shoot ratio. Soil microbial activity and biomass decreased with intensification of defoliation. Concentrations of NO3,N in soil steadily increased with intensifying defoliation, whereas NH4,N concentrations did not vary between treatments. Numbers of microbi-detritivorous enchytraeids, bacterial-feeding rotifers and bacterial-feeding nematodes steadily increased with intensifying defoliation, while the abundance of fungal-feeding nematodes was significantly enhanced only in DI 3 and DI 4 relative to DI 0. The abundance of herbivorous nematodes per unit soil mass was lower in DI 3 and DI 4 than in DI 0, DI 1 and DI 2, but when calculated per unit root mass, their abundance tended to increase with defoliation intensity. The abundance of omnivorous and predatory nematodes appeared to be highest in the most intensely defoliated systems. The ratio of abundance of fungal-feeding nematodes to that of bacterial-feeding nematodes was not significantly affected by defoliation intensity. The results infer that defoliation intensity may significantly alter the structure of soil food webs in grasslands, and that defoliation per se is able to induce patterns observed in grazing studies in the field. The results did not support hypotheses that defoliation per se would cause a shift between the bacterial-based and fungal-based energy channels in the decomposer food web, or that herbivore and detritivore densities in soil would be highest under intermediate defoliation. Furthermore, our data for microbes and microbial feeders implies that the effects of defoliation intensity on soil food-web structure may depend on the duration of defoliation and are therefore likely to be dynamic rather than constant in nature. [source]

    Naturally Saline Boreal Communities as Models for Reclamation of Saline Oil Sand Tailings

    Brett G. Purdy
    Abstract Reclaimed landscapes after oil sands mining have saline soils; yet, they are required to have similar biodiversity and productivity as the predisturbance nonsaline landscape. Given that many species in the boreal forest are not tolerant of salinity, we studied the effects of soil salinity on plant communities in natural saline landscapes to understand potential plant responses during the reclamation process. Vegetation,soil relationships were measured along transects from flooded wetlands to upland forest vegetation in strongly saline, slightly saline, nonsaline, and reclaimed boreal landscapes. In strongly saline landscapes, surface soil salinity was high (>10 dS/m) in flooded, wet-meadow, and dry-meadow vegetation zones as compared to slightly saline (<5 dS/m) and nonsaline (<2 dS/m) landscapes. Plant communities in these vegetation zones were quite different from nonsaline boreal landscapes and were dominated by halophytes common to saline habitats of the Great Plains. In the shrub and forest vegetation zones, surface soil salinity was similar between saline and nonsaline landscapes, resulting in similar plant communities. In strongly saline landscapes, soils remained saline at depth through the shrub and forest vegetation zones (>10 dS/m), suggesting that forest vegetation can establish over saline soils as long as the salts are below the rooting zone. The reclaimed landscape was intermediate between slightly saline and nonsaline landscapes in terms of soil salinity but more similar to nonsaline habitats with respect to species composition. Results from this study suggest it may be unrealistic to expect that plant communities similar to those found on the predisturbance landscape can be established on all reclaimed landscapes after oil sands mining. [source]

    Effects of raised water levels on wet grassland plant communities

    Sarah E. Toogood
    Abstract Questions: What are the effects of raised water levels on wet grassland plant communities and dynamics? To what extent do time since raised water levels, vegetation management and water regime influence community composition? Location: Pevensey Levels, southeast England, UK. Methods: Plant communities and hydrology were monitored during 2001-03 within 23 wet grassland meadows and pastures where water levels had been raised for nature conservation at different times over 21 years. Community variations were examined using species abundance and ecological traits. Results: Water regime, measured as duration of flooding, groundwater level and soil moisture was significantly related to plant community variation. Communities were divided into grasslands where inundation was shallow (,8 cm) and relatively short (,3 months) and sites where deeper flooding was prolonged (,5 months), supporting a variety of wetland vegetation. With increasing wetness, sites were characterised by more bare ground and wetland plants such as sedges, helophytes and hydrophytes, and species with a stress-tolerating competitive strategy. All sites showed considerable annual dynamics, especially those with substantially raised water levels. There were no significant relationships between time since water levels were raised and plant community composition. Grassland management exerted a limited influence upon vegetation compared to water regime. Conclusions: Grassland plant communities are responsive to raised water levels and have potential for a rapid transition to wetland vegetation, irrespective of grazing or cutting management. Creation or restoration of wet grasslands by (re)wetting is feasible but challenging due to the high dynamism of wetland plant communities and the need for substantially raised water levels and prolonged flooding to produce significant community changes. [source]

    Multi-scale responses of plant species diversity in semi-natural buffer strips to agricultural landscapes

    Maohua Ma
    Question: How does agricultural land usage affect plant species diversity in semi-natural buffer strips at multiple scales? Location: Lepsämä River watershed, Nurmijärvi, Southern Finland. Methods: Species diversity indicators included both richness and evenness. Plant communities in buffer strips were surveyed in 29 sampling sites. Using ArcGIS Desktop 9.0 (ArcInfo) and Fragstats 3.3 for GIS analysis, the landscape composition around each sampling site was characterized by seven parameters in square sectors at five scales: 4, 36, 100, 196, and 324ha. For each scale, Principle Component Analysis was used to examine the importance of each structural metric to diversity indicators using multiple regression and other simple analyses. Results: For all but the smallest scales (4 ha), two structural metrics including the diversity of land cover types and percentage of arable land were positively and negatively correlated with species richness, respectively. Both metrics had the highest correlation coefficients for species richness at the second largest scale (196 ha). The density of arable field edges between the fields was the only metric that correlated with species evenness for all scales, which had highest predictive power at the second smallest scale (36 ha). Conclusions: Species richness and evenness of buffer strips had scale-dependent relationships to land use in agricultural ecosystems. The results of this study indicated that species richness depends on the pattern of arable land use at large scales, which may relate to the regional species pool. Meanwhile, species evenness depended on the level of field edge density at small scales, which relates to how the nearby farmland was divided by the edges (e.g. many small-scale fields with high edge density or a few big-scale fields with low edge density). This implies that it is important to manage the biodiversity of buffer strips within a landscape context at multiple scales. [source]

    Consumer Control of Salt Marshes Driven by Human Disturbance

    control de consumidor; impactos humanos; conservación de pantano de sal; cascadas de trophic Abstract:,Salt marsh ecosystems are widely considered to be controlled exclusively by bottom,up forces, but there is mounting evidence that human disturbances are triggering consumer control in western Atlantic salt marshes, often with catastrophic consequences. In other marine ecosystems, human disturbances routinely dampen (e.g., coral reefs, sea grass beds) and strengthen (e.g., kelps) consumer control, but current marsh theory predicts little potential interaction between humans and marsh consumers. Thus, human modification of top,down control in salt marshes was not anticipated and was even discounted in current marsh theory, despite loud warnings about the potential for cascading human impacts from work in other marine ecosystems. In spite of recent experiments that have challenged established marsh dogma and demonstrated consumer-driven die-off of salt marsh ecosystems, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations continue to manage marsh die-offs under the old theoretical framework and only consider bottom,up forces as causal agents. This intellectual dependency of many coastal ecologists and managers on system-specific theory (i.e., marsh bottom,up theory) has the potential to have grave repercussions for coastal ecosystem management and conservation in the face of increasing human threats. We stress that marine vascular plant communities (salt marshes, sea grass beds, mangroves) are likely more vulnerable to runaway grazing and consumer-driven collapse than is currently recognized by theory, particularly in low-diversity ecosystems like Atlantic salt marshes. Resumen:,Se ha considerado extensamente que los ecosistemas de marismas son controlados exclusivamente por dinámicas abajo-arriba, pero se ha acumulado evidencia de que las perturbaciones humanas están provocando el control por consumidores en marismas del Atlántico occidental, a menudo con consecuencias catastróficas. En otros ecosistemas marinos, las perturbaciones humanas rutinariamente disminuyen (e.g., arrecifes de coral, pastos marinos) y refuerzan (e.g., varec) el control por consumidores, pero la teoría de marismas actual predice una leve interacción potencial entre humanos y consumidores en las marismas. Por lo tanto, las modificaciones humanas al control arriba-abajo en las marismas no estaba anticipada y aun era descontada en la teoría de marismas actual, a pesar de advertencias sobre el potencial de impactos humanos en cascada en trabajos en otros ecosistemas marinos. No obstante los experimentos recientes que han desafiado el dogma de marismas establecido y que han demostrado la desaparición gradual de marismas conducida por consumidores, las agencias gubernamentales y las organizaciones no gubernamentales continúan manejando la disminución de marismas en el marco de la teoría vieja y sólo consideran como agentes causales a factores abajo-arriba. Esta dependencia intelectual en la teoría sistema-específico (i.e., teoría de marismas abajo-arriba) de muchos ecólogos y manejadores costeros tiene el potencial de tener repercusiones graves para el manejo y conservación de ecosistemas costeros frente a las crecientes amenazas humanas. Enfatizamos que las comunidades plantas vasculares marinas (marismas, pastos marinos, manglares) son potencialmente más vulnerables al pastoreo descontrolado y al colapso conducido por consumidores que lo que reconoce la teoría actualmente, particularmente en ecosistemas con baja diversidad como las marismas del Atlántico. [source]

    BIODIVERSITY RESEARCH: Native-exotic species richness relationships across spatial scales and biotic homogenization in wetland plant communities of Illinois, USA

    Hua Chen
    Abstract Aim, To examine native-exotic species richness relationships across spatial scales and corresponding biotic homogenization in wetland plant communities. Location, Illinois, USA. Methods, We analysed the native-exotic species richness relationship for vascular plants at three spatial scales (small, 0.25 m2 of sample area; medium, 1 m2 of sample area; large, 5 m2 of sample area) in 103 wetlands across Illinois. At each scale, Spearman's correlation coefficient between native and exotic richness was calculated. We also investigated the potential for biotic homogenization by comparing all species surveyed in a wetland community (from the large sample area) with the species composition in all other wetlands using paired comparisons of their Jaccard's and Simpson's similarity indices. Results, At large and medium scales, native richness was positively correlated with exotic richness, with the strength of the correlation decreasing from the large to the medium scale; at the smallest scale, the native-exotic richness correlation was negative. The average value for homogenization indices was 0.096 and 0.168, using Jaccard's and Simpson's indices, respectively, indicating that these wetland plant communities have been homogenized because of invasion by exotic species. Main Conclusions, Our study demonstrated a clear shift from a positive to a negative native-exotic species richness relationship from larger to smaller spatial scales. The negative native-exotic richness relationship that we found is suggested to result from direct biotic interactions (competitive exclusion) between native and exotic species, whereas positive correlations likely reflect the more prominent influence of habitat heterogeneity on richness at larger scales. Our finding of homogenization at the community level extends conclusions from previous studies having found this pattern at much larger spatial scales. Furthermore, these results suggest that even while exhibiting a positive native-exotic richness relationship, community level biotas can/are still being homogenized because of exotic species invasion. [source]

    Conversion of sagebrush shrublands to exotic annual grasslands negatively impacts small mammal communities

    Steven M. Ostoja
    Abstract Aim, The exotic annual cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is fast replacing sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) communities throughout the Great Basin Desert and nearby regions in the Western United States, impacting native plant communities and altering fire regimes, which contributes to the long-term persistence of this weedy species. The effect of this conversion on native faunal communities remains largely unexamined. We assess the impact of conversion from native perennial to exotic annual plant communities on desert rodent communities. Location, Wyoming big sagebrush shrublands and nearby sites previously converted to cheatgrass-dominated annual grasslands in the Great Basin Desert, Utah, USA. Methods, At two sites in Tooele County, Utah, USA, we investigated with Sherman live trapping whether intact sagebrush vegetation and nearby converted Bromus tectorum -dominated vegetation differed in rodent abundance, diversity and community composition. Results, Rodent abundance and species richness were considerably greater in sagebrush plots than in cheatgrass-dominated plots. Nine species were captured in sagebrush plots; five of these were also trapped in cheatgrass plots, all at lower abundances than in the sagebrush. In contrast, cheatgrass-dominated plots had no species that were not found in sagebrush. In addition, the site that had been converted to cheatgrass longer had lower abundances of rodents than the site more recently converted to cheatgrass-dominated plots. Despite large differences in abundances and species richness, Simpson's D diversity and Shannon-Wiener diversity and Brillouin evenness indices did not differ between sagebrush and cheatgrass-dominated plots. Main conclusions, This survey of rodent communities in native sagebrush and in converted cheatgrass-dominated vegetation suggests that the abundances and community composition of rodents may be shifting, potentially at the larger spatial scale of the entire Great Basin, where cheatgrass continues to invade and dominate more landscape at a rapid rate. [source]

    A simulation approach to determine statistical significance of species turnover peaks in a species-rich tropical cloud forest

    K. Bach
    ABSTRACT Use of ,-diversity indices in the study of spatial distribution of species diversity is hampered by the difficulty of applying significance tests. To overcome this problem we used a simulation approach in a study of species turnover of ferns, aroids, bromeliads, and melastomes along an elevational gradient from 1700 m to 3400 m in a species-rich tropical cloud forest of Bolivia. Three parameters of species turnover (number of upper/lower elevational species limits per elevational step, Wilson,Shmida similarity index between adjacent steps) were analysed. Significant species turnover limits were detected at 2000 (± 50) m and 3050 m, which roughly coincided with the elevational limits of the main vegetation types recognized in the study area. The taxon specificity of elevational distributions implies that no single plant group can be used as a reliable surrogate for overall plant diversity and that the response to future climate change will be taxon-specific, potentially leading to the formation of plant communities lacking modern analogues. Mean elevational range size of plant species was 490 m (± 369). Elevational range sizes of terrestrial species were shorter than those of epiphytes. We conclude that our simulation approach provides an alternative approach for assessing the statistical significance of levels of species turnover along ecological gradient without the limitations imposed by traditional statistical approaches. [source]

    Negative per capita effects of purple loosestrife and reed canary grass on plant diversity of wetland communities

    Shon S. Schooler
    ABSTRACT Invasive plants can simplify plant community structure, alter ecosystem processes and undermine the ecosystem services that we derive from biotic diversity. Two invasive plants, purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea), are becoming the dominant species in many wetlands across temperate North America. We used a horizontal, observational study to estimate per capita effects (PCEs) of purple loosestrife and reed canary grass on plant diversity in 24 wetland communities in the Pacific Northwest, USA. Four measures of diversity were used: the number of species (S), evenness of relative abundance (J), the Shannon,Wiener index (H,) and Simpson's index (D). We show that (1) the PCEs on biotic diversity were similar for both invasive species among the four measures of diversity we examined; (2) the relationship between plant diversity and invasive plant abundance ranges from linear (constant slope) to negative exponential (variable slope), the latter signifying that the PCEs are density-dependent; (3) the PCEs were density-dependent for measures of diversity sensitive to the number of species (S, H,, D) but not for the measure that relied solely upon relative abundance (J); and (4) invader abundance was not correlated with other potential influences on biodiversity (hydrology, soils, topography). These results indicate that both species are capable of reducing plant community diversity, and management strategies need to consider the simultaneous control of multiple species if the goal is to maintain diverse plant communities. [source]

    Invasion of Agave species (Agavaceae) in south-east Spain: invader demographic parameters and impacts on native species

    Ernesto I. Badano
    ABSTRACT Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the success of invasive species in new environments. A species may become invasive when a new site provides the potential for positive rates of population growth. This may be the case of several Agave species introduced to Spain in the 1940s. In this paper we document factors that promote large increases of populations of these species, and their effects on native plant communities in two sites of SE Spain. Results showed higher rhizome and bulbil production, and higher establishment rates by agaves in sandy soils than in clay soils. In their native habitats, agaves have low establishment rates and sandy soils are rare. This suggests that sandy soils are an opportunity which releases the clonal reproduction of Agave. The effects of agaves on the physiological performance and reproduction of native species were negative, positive or neutral, depending on the size and rooting depth of neighbours. Assemblages of native species growing within Agave stands had lower diversity than non-invaded sites. Our data show that Agave stands have positive growth rates in SE Spain, and suggest that sandy soils are a niche dimension enhancing the invasion in these new habitats. [source]

    Plant species richness and environmental heterogeneity in a mountain landscape: effects of variability and spatial configuration

    ECOGRAPHY, Issue 4 2006
    Alexia Dufour
    The loss of biodiversity has become a matter of urgent concern and a better understanding of local drivers is crucial for conservation. Although environmental heterogeneity is recognized as an important determinant of biodiversity, this has rarely been tested using field data at management scale. We propose and provide evidence for the simple hypothesis that local species diversity is related to spatial environmental heterogeneity. Species partition the environment into habitats. Biodiversity is therefore expected to be influenced by two aspects of spatial heterogeneity: 1) the variability of environmental conditions, which will affect the number of types of habitat, and 2) the spatial configuration of habitats, which will affect the rates of ecological processes, such as dispersal or competition. Earlier, simulation experiments predicted that both aspects of heterogeneity will influence plant species richness at a particular site. For the first time, these predictions were tested for plant communities using field data, which we collected in a wooded pasture in the Swiss Jura mountains using a four-level hierarchical sampling design. Richness generally increased with increasing environmental variability and "roughness" (i.e. decreasing spatial aggregation). Effects occurred at all scales, but the nature of the effect changed with scale, suggesting a change in the underlying mechanisms, which will need to be taken into account if scaling up to larger landscapes. Although we found significant effects of environmental heterogeneity, other factors such as history could also be important determinants. If a relationship between environmental heterogeneity and species richness can be shown to be general, recently available high-resolution environmental data can be used to complement the assessment of patterns of local richness and improve the prediction of the effects of land use change based on mean site conditions or land use history. [source]

    Size traits and site conditions determine changes in seed bank structure caused by grazing exclusion in semiarid annual plant communities

    ECOGRAPHY, Issue 1 2006
    Yagil Osem
    1. Contrasting patterns of change in the seed bank of natural grasslands are frequently found in response to grazing by domestic herbivores. Here, we studied the hypotheses that a) patterns of change in seed bank density and composition in response to grazing depend on spatial variation in resource availability and productivity, and b) that variation among species in patterns of seed bank response to grazing is linked to differences in species size traits (i.e. size of plant, dispersal unit and seed). 2. Effects of sheep grazing exclusion on the seed bank were followed during five years in a semiarid Mediterranean annual plant community in Israel. Seed bank density and composition were measured in autumn, before the rainy season, inside and outside fenced exclosures in four neighboring topographic sites differing in vegetation characteristics, soil resources and primary productivity: Wadi (dry stream terraces, high productive site), Hilltop, South- and North-facing slopes (less productive sites). 3. Topographic sites differed in seed density (range ca 2500,18000 seed m,2) and in seed bank response to grazing exclusion. Fencing increased seed density by 78, 51 and 18% in the Wadi, South- and North-facing slopes, respectively, but had no effect in the Hilltop. At the species level, grazing exclusion interacted with site conditions in determining species seed bank density, with larger or opposite changes in the high productive Wadi compared to the other less productive sites. 4. Changes in seed bank structure after grazing exclusion were strongly related to species size traits. Grazing exclusion favored species with large size traits in all sites, while seed density of tiny species decreased strongly in the high productive Wadi. Species with medium and small size traits showed lesser or no responses. 5. The size of plants, dispersal units and seeds were strongly correlated to each other, thus confounding the evaluation of the relative importance of each trait in the response of species to grazing and site conditions. We propose that the relative importance of plant size vs seed size in the response to grazing changes with productivity level. [source]

    Impact of warming and timing of snow melt on soil microarthropod assemblages associated with Dryas- dominated plant communities on Svalbard

    ECOGRAPHY, Issue 1 2006
    Rebecca Dollery
    Open Top Chambers (OTCs) were used to measure impacts of predicted global warming on the structure of the invertebrate community of a Dryas octopetala heath in West Spitsbergen. Results from the OTC experiment were compared with natural variation in invertebrate community structure along a snowmelt transect through similar vegetation up the adjacent hillside. Changes along this transect represent the natural response of the invertebrate community to progressively longer and potentially warmer and drier growing seasons. Using MANOVA, ANOVA, Linear Discriminant Analysis and ,2 tests, significant differences in community composition were found between OTCs and controls and among stations along the transect. Numbers of cryptostigmatic and predatory mites tended to be higher in the warmer OTC treatment but numbers of the aphid Acyrthosiphon svalbardicum, hymenopterous parasitoids, Symphyta larvae, and weevils were higher in control plots. Most Collembola, including Hypogastrura tullbergi, Lepidocyrtus lignorum and Isotoma anglicana, followed a similar trend to the aphid, but Folsomia bisetosa was more abundant in the OTC treatment. Trends along the transect showed clear parallels with the OTC experiment. However, mite species, particularly Diapterobates notatus, tended to increase in numbers under warming, with several species collectively increasing at the earlier exposed transect stations. Overall, the results suggest that the composition and structure of Arctic invertebrate communities associated with Dryas will change significantly under global warming. [source]

    Effects of Acer platanoides invasion on understory plant communities and tree regeneration in the northern Rocky Mountains

    ECOGRAPHY, Issue 5 2005
    Kurt O. Reinhart
    Quantitative studies are necessary to determine whether invasive plant species displace natives and reduce local biodiversity, or if they increase local biodiversity. Here we describe the effects of invasion by Norway maple Acer platanoides on riparian plant communities and tree regeneration at two different scales (individual tree vs stand scales) in western Montana, USA, using both descriptive and experimental approaches. The three stands differed in community composition with the stand most dominated by A. platanoides invasion being more compositionally homogenous, and less species rich (,67%), species even (,40%), and diverse (,75%) than the two other stands. This sharp decrease in community richness and diversity of the highly invaded stand, relative to the other stands, corresponded with a 28-fold increase in A. platanoides seedlings and saplings. The dramatic difference between stand 1 vs 2 and 3 suggests that A. platanoides invasion is associated with a dramatic change in community composition and local loss of species diversity; however, other unaccounted for differences between stands may be the cause. These whole-stand correlations were corroborated by community patterns under individual A. platanoides trees in a stand with intermediate levels of patchy invasion. At the scale of individual A. platanoides canopies within a matrix of native trees, diversity and richness of species beneath solitary A. platanoides trees declined as the size of the trees increased. These decreases in native community properties corresponded with an increase in the density of A. platanoides seedlings. The effect of A. platanoides at the stand scale was more dramatic than at the individual canopy scale; however, at this smaller scale we only collected data from the stand with intermediate levels of invasion and not from the stand with high levels of invasion. Transplant experiments with tree seedlings demonstrated that A. platanoides seedlings performed better when grown beneath conspecific canopies than under natives, but Populus and Pinus seedlings performed better when grown beneath Populus canopies, the dominant native. Our results indicate that A. platanoides trees suppress most native species, including the regeneration of the natural canopy dominants, but facilitate conspecifics in their understories. [source]

    A multi-scale test for dispersal filters in an island plant community

    ECOGRAPHY, Issue 4 2005
    Kevin C. Burns
    Constraints on plant distributions resulting from seed limitation (i.e. dispersal filters) were evaluated on two scales of ecological organization on islands off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. First, island plant communities were separated into groups based on fruit morphology, and patterns in species diversity were compared between fruit-type groups. Second, abundance patterns in several common fleshy-fruited, woody angiosperm species were compared to species-specific patterns in seed dispersal by birds. Results from community-level analyses showed evidence for dispersal filters. Dry-fruited species were rare on islands, despite being common on the mainland. Island plant communities were instead dominated by fleshy-fruited species. Patterns in seed dispersal were consistent with differences in diversity, as birds dispersed thousands of fleshy-fruited seeds out to islands, while dry fruited species showed no evidence of mainland-island dispersal. Results from population-level analyses showed no evidence for dispersal filters. Population sizes of common fleshy-fruited species were unrelated to island isolation, as were rates of seed dispersal. Therefore, island isolation distances were not large enough to impose constraints on species' distributions resulting from seed limitation. Rates of seed dispersal were also unrelated to island area. However, several species increased in abundance with island area, indicating post-dispersal processes also help to shape species distributions. Overall results suggest that seed dispersal processes play an important role in determining the diversity and distribution of plants on islands. At the community-level, dry-fruited species were seed limited and island communities were instead dominated by fleshy-fruited species. At the population-level, common fleshy-fruited species were not seed limited and showed few differences in distribution among islands. Therefore, although evidence for dispersal filters was observed, their effects on plant distributions were scale-dependent. [source]

    Relationships between spatial environmental heterogeneity and plant species diversity on a limestone pavement

    ECOGRAPHY, Issue 6 2003
    Jeremy T. Lundholm
    No empirical studies have examined the relationship between diversity and spatial heterogeneity across unimodal species richness gradients. We determined the relationships between diversity and environmental factors for 144 0.18 m2 plots in a limestone pavement alvar in southern Ontario, Canada, including within-plot spatial heterogeneity in soil depth, microtopography and microsite composition. Species richness was unimodally related to mean soil depth and relative elevation. Microsite heterogeneity and soil depth heterogeneity were positively correlated with species richness, and the richness peaks of the unimodal gradients correspond to the maximally spatially heterogeneous plots. The best predictive models of species richness and evenness, however, showed that other factors, such as ramet density and flooding, are the major determinants of diversity in this system. The findings that soil depth heterogeneity had effects on diversity when the effects of mean soil depth were factored out, and that unimodal richness peaks were associated with high spatial heterogeneity in environmental factors represent significant contributions to our understanding of how spatial heterogeneity might contribute to diversity maintenance in plant communities. [source]

    Dispersal and life span spectra in plant communities: a key to safe site dynamics, species coexistence and conservation

    ECOGRAPHY, Issue 2 2002
    Roel J. Strykstra
    Dispersal and life span of individual plant species within five plant communities were assessed to obtain a characterization of these communities in this respect. Such a characterization is important in the context of restoration and maintenance. The most frequent species of five communities were ranked in eight classes according to their level of seed dispersal capability, their seed bank formation (dispersal in time and space) and their individual life span. In the communities, all eight classes were found, but communities differed in the distribution of the species over the classes. A theoretical framework was constructed to use the level of specialization of plant species in terms of dispersal in space and time, and life span, to define the characteristics of safe site dynamics within communities. Following simple rules, the relative reliability of the occurrence of safe sites in space and time was defined. After that, the relative reliability of the habitat was linked to the best fitting combination of trait specialization level. Having defined this link, communities could be characterized in a comparative way by their level and pattern of reliability of the opportunities for recruitment in space and time. The meaning of the coexistence of a range of trait combinations in one community was discussed. It was postulated that habitat reliability can explain this by assuming that the habitat of the community is part of a larger system, or consists of several "subsystems". These insights need to be considered in nature conservation. Succession and also specializations beyond the scope of dispersal and life span may influence the occurrence of species in a seemingly unfit habitat (for instance the occurrence of semi parasitic annuals in a community of perennials, because they use the perennial root system of other species). Finally, the meaning of safe site reliability in space and time in the context of restoration of communities was discussed. The reliability in space and time may be different today from that of the past, which restricts the feasibility of restoration of communities. [source]

    Exotic plant species invade diversity hot spots: the alien flora of northwestern Kenya

    ECOGRAPHY, Issue 2 2000
    J. Stadler
    We analysed the distribution of native and alien plant species across 20 ecogeographic zones of northwestern Kenya. The source pool for the majority of aliens was Europe and America. Thus, the source pool has a biogeographic bias which explains the low proportion of aliens in the tropics: most species in the European or American source pool are not well adapted to tropical conditions. As expected, native and alien plant species showed an area effect. Correcting for this area effect. species rich zones showed a higher proportion of alien plant species in their flora. At the analysed scale, species richness of native plant communities does not increase the resistance to invasions and alien plant species invade diversity hotspots. Compared to the other ecogeographic zone, the urban area around Nairobi showed an increased richness in alien and native plant species. This is very similar to findings in Europe, although the history of urbanisation is much shorter in Kenya. The species turnover between zones (,-diversity) shows a similar pattern in native and alien plant species. Within a very short time scale the alien plant species mapped the biogeographic patterns of natives, although the geography of human activities influences the propagule pressure. [source]

    Macroecology of a host-parasite relationship

    ECOGRAPHY, Issue 1 2000
    Caryn C. Vaughn
    The larvae of freshwater mussels are obligate ectoparasites on fishes while adults are sedentary and benthic. Dispersal of mussels is dependent on the movement of fish hosts, a regional process, but growth and reproduction should be governed by local processes. Thus, mussel assemblage attributes should be predictable from the regional distribution and abundance of fishes. At a broad spatial scale in the Red River drainage, USA, mussel species richness and fish species richness were positively associated; maximum mussel richness was limited by fish richness, but was variable beneath that constraint. Measured environmental variables and the associated local fish assemblages each significantly accounted for the regional variation in mussel assemblages. Furthermore, mussel assemblages showed strong spatial autocorrelation. Variation partitioning revealed that pure fish effects accounted for 15.4% of the variation in mussel assemblages; pure spatial and environmental effects accounted for 16.1% and 7.8%, respectively. Shared variation among fish, space and environmental variables totaled 40%. Of this shared variation, 36.8% was associated with the fish matrix. Thus, the variation in mussel assemblages that was associated with the distribution and abundance of fishes was substantial (> 50%), indicating that fish community structure is an important determinant of mussel community structure. Although animals commonly disperse plants and, thus, influence the structure of plant communities, our results show a strong macroecological association between two disparate animal groups with one strongly affecting the assemblage structure of the other. [source]

    Wolves, trophic cascades, and rivers in the Olympic National Park, USA

    ECOHYDROLOGY, Issue 2 2008
    Robert L. Beschta
    Abstract Gray wolves (Canis lupus) were extirpated in the early 1900s from the Olympic Peninsula of northwestern Washington. Thus, we studied potential cascading effects of wolf removal by undertaking a retrospective study of Roosevelt elk (Cervus elaphus) populations, riparian forests, and river channel morphology. For three riparian sites within the western portion of Olympic National Park, the age structure of black cottonwood and bigleaf maple indicated a pattern of significantly decreased recruitment (growth of seedlings/sprouts into tall saplings and trees) associated with intensive elk browsing in the decades following the loss of wolves. At a riparian site outside the park, which represented a refugium from elk browsing, cottonwood recruitment has been ongoing during the 20th century, indicating that climate and flow regimes, in the absence of intensive herbivory, have not limited the establishment and growth of this deciduous woody species. Using 1994 orthophotos, we also measured channel dimensions and planform morphology of 8-km-long river reaches at each vegetation sampling site and an additional reach outside the park. Channels inside the park versus those outside the park had greater percent braiding (37 vs 2%) and larger ratios of active channel width/wetted width (3·0 vs 1·5 m/m). Results for western Olympic National Park were consistent with a truncated trophic cascade hypothesis whereby ungulate browsing following the extirpation of wolves caused significant long-term impacts to riparian plant communities which, in turn, allowed increased riverbank erosion and channel widening to occur. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

    Host shifting by Operophtera brumata into novel environments leads to population differentiation in life-history traits

    Adam J. Vanbergen
    Abstract., 1. Operophtera brumata L. (Lepidoptera: Geometridae), a polyphagous herbivore usually associated with deciduous trees such as oak Quercus robur L., has expanded its host range to include the evergreen species heather Calluna vulgaris (L.) Hull and, most recently, Sitka spruce Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carrière. 2. Phenology, morphology, and survival of O. brumata were measured at several life-history stages in populations from the three different host plant communities sampled from a range of geographical locations. The data were used to test for population differences, reflecting the marked differences in host-plant secondary chemistry, growth form, and site factors such as climate. The hypothesis that spruce-feeding populations originated from populations feeding on moorland, commonly sites of coniferous afforestation, was also tested. 3. Altitude, not host plant species, was the major influence on the timing of adult emergence. An effect of insect population independent of altitude was found, implying that additional unidentified factors contribute to this phenological variation. Larval survival and adult size varied between populations reared on different host plant species. Survival of larvae was affected negatively when reared on the novel host plant, Sitka spruce, versus the natal plant (oak or heather) but oak and heather-sourced insects did not differ in survivorship on Sitka spruce. 4. Host range extension into novel environments has resulted in population differentiation to the local climate, demonstrating that host shifts pose challenges to the herbivore population greater than those offered by the host plant alone. The hypothesis that Sitka spruce feeding populations have arisen predominantly from moorland feeding populations was not supported. [source]

    Refuge-mediated apparent competition in plant,consumer interactions

    ECOLOGY LETTERS, Issue 1 2010
    John L. Orrock
    Abstract At the intersection of consumer behaviour and plant competition is the concept of refuge-mediated apparent competition: an indirect interaction whereby plants provide a refuge for a shared consumer, subsequently increasing consumer pressure on another plant species. Here, we use a simple model and empirical examples to develop and illustrate the concept of refuge-mediated apparent competition. We find that the likelihood that an inferior competitor will succeed via refuge-mediated apparent competition is greater when competitors have similar resource requirements and when consumers exhibit a strong response to the refuge and high attack rates on the superior competitor. Refuge-mediated apparent competition may create an emergent Allee effect, such that a species invades only if it is sufficiently abundant to alter consumer impact on resident species. This indirect interaction may help explain unresolved patterns observed in biological invasion, such as the different physical structure of invasive exotic plants, the lag phase, and the failure of restoration efforts. Given the ubiquity of refuge-seeking behaviour by consumers and the ability of consumers to alter the outcome of direct competition among plants, refuge-mediated apparent competition may be an underappreciated mechanism affecting the composition and diversity of plant communities. Ecology Letters (2010) 13: 11,20 [source]

    Plant,soil feedbacks: a meta-analytical review

    ECOLOGY LETTERS, Issue 9 2008
    Andrew Kulmatiski
    Abstract Plants can change soil biology, chemistry and structure in ways that alter subsequent plant growth. This process, referred to as plant,soil feedback (PSF), has been suggested to provide mechanisms for plant diversity, succession and invasion. Here we use three meta-analytical models: a mixed model and two Bayes models, one correcting for sampling dependence and one correcting for sampling and hierarchical dependence (delta-splitting model) to test these hypotheses. All three models showed that PSFs have medium to large negative effects on plant growth, and especially grass growth, the life form for which we had the most data. This supports the hypothesis that PSFs, through negative frequency dependence, maintain plant diversity, especially in grasslands. PSFs were also large and negative for annuals and natives, but the delta-splitting model indicated that more studies are needed for these results to be conclusive. Our results support the hypotheses that PSFs encourage successional replacements and plant invasions. Most studies were performed using monocultures of grassland species in greenhouse conditions. Future research should examine PSFs in plant communities, non-grassland systems and field conditions. [source]