Small-scale landforms influence plant species richness, but their mechanisms and effects in semi-natural dry grasslands have been poorly investigated. In this study we compared vascular plant richness, species composition, plant traits, soil properties and biomass nutrient content of convex (hillocks) and concave (hollows) karst landforms in a mountain pasture of the Central Apennines (Italy), at a small spatial scale (1 m2 plots). We found hillocks had significantly higher species richness than hollows. On hillocks, smaller Specific Leaf Area and Lateral Width, together with greater allocation of resources to Below-Ground Organs, indicated lower water availability, whereas hollows had deeper (thus moister), more acidic and more fertile soils, with aboveground plant biomass displaying higher nutrient levels. Partial correlation and regression tree models suggested that fine-scale richness patterns were not directly determined by abiotic properties, but were rather the result of competition levels associated with the cover of Agrostis capillaris (=A. tenuis) – a calcifuge and drought-sensitive grass able to achieve dominance only in hollows. The higher functional convergence exhibited by hollows suggests that A. capillaris is a strong competitor both above- and below-ground, mediating the effects of topography by imposing a biotic filter. On hillocks, competition is released by lower levels of available soil water in summer and higher soil pH, resulting in higher species richness and a more functionally divergent assemblage.

Filibeck, G., Sperandii, M.G., Bragazza, L., Bricca, A., Chelli, S., Maccherini, S., et al. (2020). Competitive dominance mediates the effects of topography on plant richness in a mountain grassland. BASIC AND APPLIED ECOLOGY, 48, 112-123 [10.1016/j.baae.2020.09.008].

Competitive dominance mediates the effects of topography on plant richness in a mountain grassland

Sperandii M. G.;Bricca A.;Cancellieri L.
2020

Abstract

Small-scale landforms influence plant species richness, but their mechanisms and effects in semi-natural dry grasslands have been poorly investigated. In this study we compared vascular plant richness, species composition, plant traits, soil properties and biomass nutrient content of convex (hillocks) and concave (hollows) karst landforms in a mountain pasture of the Central Apennines (Italy), at a small spatial scale (1 m2 plots). We found hillocks had significantly higher species richness than hollows. On hillocks, smaller Specific Leaf Area and Lateral Width, together with greater allocation of resources to Below-Ground Organs, indicated lower water availability, whereas hollows had deeper (thus moister), more acidic and more fertile soils, with aboveground plant biomass displaying higher nutrient levels. Partial correlation and regression tree models suggested that fine-scale richness patterns were not directly determined by abiotic properties, but were rather the result of competition levels associated with the cover of Agrostis capillaris (=A. tenuis) – a calcifuge and drought-sensitive grass able to achieve dominance only in hollows. The higher functional convergence exhibited by hollows suggests that A. capillaris is a strong competitor both above- and below-ground, mediating the effects of topography by imposing a biotic filter. On hillocks, competition is released by lower levels of available soil water in summer and higher soil pH, resulting in higher species richness and a more functionally divergent assemblage.
Filibeck, G., Sperandii, M.G., Bragazza, L., Bricca, A., Chelli, S., Maccherini, S., et al. (2020). Competitive dominance mediates the effects of topography on plant richness in a mountain grassland. BASIC AND APPLIED ECOLOGY, 48, 112-123 [10.1016/j.baae.2020.09.008].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11590/416031
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