DOI: 10.1101/453217Oct 25, 2018Paper

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

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Andrew Kulmatiski, Karen H Beard


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 chronosquence, 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 in both field types. Despite changes in community composition 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 ...Continue Reading

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