Publication details

Seasonal beta-diversity of dry grassland vegetation: Divergent peaks of above-ground biomass and species richness

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Year of publication 2023
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Journal of Vegetation Science
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords beta-diversity; biomass; dry grassland; permanent plots; plant community; primary production; seasonal dynamics; species richness; vascular plants
Description Question: Temperate grasslands are known for their high plant diversity and distinct seasonality. However, their intra-annual community dynamics are still largely overlooked by ecologists. Therefore, we explored the seasonal alpha- and beta-diversity patterns of vascular plants and their relationships to above-ground biomass in a rocky steppe (Festucion valesiacae). - Location: Pavlov Hills, SE Czech Republic.Methods: For one year, we monitored the plant community of the rocky steppe at monthly intervals in 42 permanent plots of 0.25 m(2). We examined seasonal changes in above-ground biomass (estimated from the cover and height of living plant parts) and seasonal beta-diversity, which we partitioned into turnover and nestedness components and their quantitative counterparts: balanced changes and abundance gradients. - Results: We identified a pronounced seasonal pattern of above-ground biomass, species richness and composition. Total above-ground biomass was highest in June (summer), with a peak representing only 60% of total annual production (sum of individual species' maxima). However, the observed peak in species richness occurred in March (early spring), with 80% of the total species number recorded throughout the year. Accordingly, nestedness and abundance gradient patterns differed in the spring months, while seasonal turnover and balanced changes in abundance were generally congruent. Annual, short-lived, and perennial species exhibited different seasonal patterns of species richness and biomass production, although a sharp increase in biomass and a peak in species richness in spring were universal across the community. - Conclusions: Seasonal climatic constraints on plant growth are key determinants of primary production dynamics. Plants adapt to these constraints by adjusting their life cycles in different ways. In dry grasslands, the complexity of plant responses to climatic seasonality can result in seasonal beta-diversity patterns with divergent peaks in biomass and species richness.
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