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Plant community assembly in grazed grasslands
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Species assembly into local communities from the surrounding region can be caused either by species failure to reach the site (i.e. seed limitation) or to establish (i.e. establishment limitation). The aim of this thesis was to investigate plant species assembly and to determine the relative importance of different factors in that process.

In a cultivated landscape in southeast Sweden, plant community assembly was studied in grazed ex-arable fields. Community assembly from the surrounding region into the local community was explored using trait-based null models and seed sowing and transplanting experiments. The influence of local environmental factors and landscape history and structure on community assembly was also studied. In addition, differences in species assembly between ex-arable fields and semi-natural grasslands were explored.

Seed limitation was the strongest filter on local community assembly. Only a fraction (36%) of species in a region dispersed to a local site and adding seeds/transplants increased species establishment. Species abundance at the regional scale, species dispersal method and seed mass strongly influenced which species arrived at the local sites. Establishment limitation also affected the assembly. Of species arriving at a site 78% did establish, seedling survival was low and which species established was influenced by species interactions, local environmental conditions and stochastic events. In addition, landscape structure that determined the species richness in the regional species pool influenced the local assembly. The comparison between assembly in ex-arable fields and semi-natural grasslands indicated that the main cause of difference in species assembly between them was difference in their age.

The main conclusion of this thesis is that regional processes are more important than local factors in determining plant community assembly.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University , 2014. , 44 p.
Keyword [en]
Assembly rules, dispersal limitation, environmental filtering, establishment limitation, ex-arable fields, functional traits, landscape history, semi-natural grasslands, seed bank, seed augmentation, seed rain, trait based filtering
National Category
Ecology Botany
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-102185ISBN: 978-91-7447-878-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-102185DiVA: diva2:708480
Public defence
2014-05-09, Stora föreläsningssalen, Institutionen för ekologi, miljö och botanik, Lilla Frescativägen 5, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Submitted. Paper 4: Submitted. Paper 5: Manuscript.

Available from: 2014-04-15 Created: 2014-03-27 Last updated: 2017-03-08Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Plant community assembly in semi-natural grasslands and ex-arable fields: a trait-based approach
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Plant community assembly in semi-natural grasslands and ex-arable fields: a trait-based approach
2014 (English)In: Journal of Vegetation Science, ISSN 1100-9233, E-ISSN 1654-1103, Vol. 25, no 1, 77-87 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

QuestionThe assembly of plants into communities is one of the central topics in plant community ecology. The objective of this study was to investigate how plant functional trait diversity and environmental factors influence community assembly in two different grassland communities, and if variation in these factors could explain the difference in species assembly between these communities. LocationSix grazed ex-arable fields and eight semi-natural grasslands in southeast Sweden. MethodsWe estimated species abundance and measured soil attributes at each site. For each species within each site we measured specific leaf area (SLA), leaf dry matter content (LDMC) and seed mass. We analysed the data both for abundance-weighted species values and species occurrence. ResultsTrait gradient analysis indicated random distribution of species among sites, while CCA analysis indicated that both soil phosphorus and moisture were related to species assembly at a site. Correlations and fourth-corner analysis also revealed a relationship between measured species traits and soil phosphorus and moisture. There was a lower average seed mass and higher SLA of species in ex-arable fields compared to species in semi-natural grasslands. ConclusionsEven though trait gradient analysis indicated that plant community assembly in the studied grasslands was random, other results implied that species occurrence and abundance was influenced both by environmental factors and species traits. Higher species richness in semi-natural grasslands was associated with more large-seeded species found there compared to ex-arable fields, indicating that large-seeded species establish in grasslands later than small-seeded species.

Keyword
Assembly rules, Dispersal limitation, Environmental filtering, Functional traits, Seed mass, SLA
National Category
Ecology Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-99871 (URN)10.1111/jvs.12058 (DOI)000328544600010 ()
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Note

AuthorCount:2;

Available from: 2014-01-24 Created: 2014-01-20 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
2. Trait-based filtering from the regional species pool into local grassland communities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Trait-based filtering from the regional species pool into local grassland communities
2014 (English)In: Journal of Plant Ecology, ISSN 1752-9921, E-ISSN 1752-993X, Vol. 7, no 4, 347-355 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

For plants to establish in a local community from a pool of possible colonizers from the region, it must pass through a series of filters. Which of the filters is most important in this process has been much debated. In this study, we explored how species are filtered from the regional species pool into local communities. The aim was to determine if differences in species abundance and functional traits could explain which species from the regional species pool establish at the local scale and if the filtering differed between grassland communities.

This study took place in a cultivated landscape in southeastern Sweden. We estimated plant species abundance in 12 ex-arable field sites and 8 adjacent seminatural grassland sites and in a 100-m radius around the center of each site. We used Monte Carlo simulations to examine if species abundance and functional traits (height, seed mass, clonal abilities, specific leaf area and dispersal method) controlled the filtering of species from the regional pool into local communities.

On average, only 28% of species found in the regional pool established in the ex-arable field sites and 45% in the seminatural grassland sites, indicating that the size of the regional species pool was not limiting local richness. For both grassland types, species abundance in the regional pool was positively correlated with species occurrence at the local scale. We found evidence for both species interaction filtering and dispersal limitation influencing the local assembly. Both local and regional processes were thus influencing the filtering of species from the regional species pool into local communities. In addition, the age of the communities influenced species filtering, indicating that community assembly and the importance of different filters in that process change over succession.

Keyword
Assembly rules, community assembly, dispersal limitation, environmental filtering, functional traits, limiting similarity
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-102122 (URN)10.1093/jpe/rtt032 (DOI)000339917700004 ()
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2014-03-27 Created: 2014-03-27 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
3. Seed and establishment limitations as mechanisms behind community assembly in grasslands
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Seed and establishment limitations as mechanisms behind community assembly in grasslands
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Keyword
Dispersal limitation, environmental filtering, Ex-arable fields, species filtering, seed sowing, species pool
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-102123 (URN)
Available from: 2014-03-27 Created: 2014-03-27 Last updated: 2017-03-08Bibliographically approved
4. Seed Rain and Seed Bank Reveal that Seed Limitation Strongly Influences Plant Community Assembly in Grasslands
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Seed Rain and Seed Bank Reveal that Seed Limitation Strongly Influences Plant Community Assembly in Grasslands
2014 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 9, no 7, e103352- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Dispersal is an important factor in plant community assembly, but assembly studies seldom include information on actual dispersal into communities, i.e. the local propagule pool. The aim of this study was to determine which factors influence plant community assembly by focusing on two phases of the assembly process: the dispersal phase and the establishment phase. At 12 study sites in grazed ex-arable fields in Sweden the local plant community was determined and in a 100-m radius around the centre of each site, the regional species pool was measured. The local seed bank and the seed rain was explored to estimate the local propagule pool. Trait-based models were then applied to investigate if species traits (height, seed mass, clonal abilities, specific leaf area and dispersal method) and regional abundance influenced which species from the regional species pool, dispersed to the local community (dispersal phase) and which established (establishment phase). Filtering of species during the dispersal phase indicates the effect of seed limitation while filtering during the establishment phase indicates microsite limitation. On average 36% of the regional species pool dispersed to the local sites and of those 78% did establish. Species with enhanced dispersal abilities, e.g. higher regional abundance, smaller seeds and dispersed by cattle, were more likely to disperse to the sites than other species. At half the sites, dispersal was influenced by species height. Species establishment was however mainly unlinked to the traits included in this study. This study underlines the importance of seed limitation in local plant community assembly. It also suggests that without information on species dispersal into a site, it is difficult to distinguish between the influence of dispersal and establishment abilities, and thus seed and microsite limitation, as both can be linked to the same trait.

National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-107999 (URN)10.1371/journal.pone.0103352 (DOI)000341354800089 ()
Note

AuthorCount:1;

Available from: 2014-10-06 Created: 2014-10-06 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
5. The effect of landscape history and landscape structure on species assembly in grassland communities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The effect of landscape history and landscape structure on species assembly in grassland communities
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-102137 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2014-03-27 Created: 2014-03-27 Last updated: 2014-03-28

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