Chronosequence and direct observation approaches reveal complementary community dynamics in a novel ecosystem

PloS One
Andrew Kulmatiski, Karen H Beard

Abstract

Non-native, early-successional plants have been observed to maintain dominance for decades, particularly in semi-arid systems. Here, two approaches were used to detect potentially slow successional patterns in an invaded semi-arid system: chronosequence and direct observation. Plant communities in 25 shrub-steppe sites that represented a 50-year chronosequence of agricultural abandonment were monitored for 13 years. Each site contained a field abandoned from agriculture (ex-arable) and an adjacent never-tilled field. Ex-arable fields were dominated by short-lived, non-native plants. These 'weedy' communities had lower species richness, diversity and ground cover, and greater annual and forb cover than communities in never-tilled fields. Never-tilled fields were dominated by long-lived native plants. Across the chronosequence, plant community composition remained unchanged in both ex-arable and never-tilled fields. In contrast, 13 years of direct observation detected directional changes in plant community composition within each field type. Despite within-community changes in both field types during direct observation, there was little evidence that native plants were invading ex-arable fields or that non-native plants were inva...Continue Reading

References

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