Publication details

Contrasting patterns of fine-scale herb layer species composition in temperate forests

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CHUDOMELOVÁ Markéta ZELENÝ David LI Ching-Feng

Year of publication 2017
Type Article in Periodical
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Ecology
Keywords Spatial structures; Environmental heterogeneity; Ellenberg indicator values; Oak forest; Scalogram; Spatial eigenvector mapping
Description We examined fine-scale environmental determinants and spatial structures of herb layer communities in thermophilous oak- and hornbeam dominated forests of the south-eastern part of the Czech Republic. Species composition of herb layer vegetation and environmental variables were recorded within a fixed grid of 2 × 2 m subplots regularly distributed within 1-ha quadrate plots in three forest stands. For each site, environmental models best explaining species composition were constructed using constrained ordination analysis. Spatial eigenvector mapping was used to model and account for spatial structures in community variation. Mean Ellenberg indicator values calculated for each subplot were used for ecological interpretation of spatially structured residual variation. The amount of variation explained by environmental and spatial models as well as the selection of variables with the best explanatory power differed among sites. As an important environmental factor, relative elevation was common to all three sites, while pH and canopy openness were shared by two sites. Both the environmental and community variation was mostly coarse-scaled, as well as the spatially structured portion of residual variation. When corrected for bias due to spatial autocorrelation, those environmental predictors with already weak explanatory power lost their significance. Only a weak evidence of possibly omitted environmental predictor was found for autocorrelated residuals of site models using mean Ellenberg indicator values. Community structure was codetermined by different factors at different sites. The relative importance of environmental filtering vs. spatial processes was also site specific, implying that results of fine-scale studies tend to be shaped by local conditions. Contrary to expectations based on other studies, overall dominance of spatial processes at fine scale has not been detected. Ecologists should keep this in mind when making generalizations about community dynamics.
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