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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Grassland Productivity and Carbon Dynamics: Consequences of Change in Atmospheric Co2, Precipitation, and Plant Species Composition, ...

Location: Grassland, Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Biodiversity and temporal niche differences between native- and novel exotic-dominated grasslands

item Wilsey, Brian -
item Daneshgar, Pedram -

Submitted to: Ecological Society of America Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 2, 2010
Publication Date: December 31, 2010
Citation: Wilsey, B.J., Daneshgar, P., Polley, H.W. 2010. Biodiversity and temporal niche differences between native- and novel exotic-dominated grasslands. In: Proceedings of the Ecological Society of America, August 1-6, 2010, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 2010 CDROM.

Technical Abstract: Many exotic plant species have been introduced or escaped into grasslands where they combine to form low diversity 'novel ecosystems' of species with no evolutionary history of interaction. Ecologists have long argued over whether low diversity of exotic communities results from species interactions (driver model) or the greater nutrient availability or frequency and intensity of disturbances that often is associated with exotic invasions (passenger model). We sampled 15 sites in an observational study, and established and monitored 208 experimental plots to compare species diversity and temporal niche measures between native and exotic grasslands. We used a paired species approach to experimentally determine species dynamics. We used monocultures and 9-species mixtures to test whether yielding behavior and niche overlap explained diversity declines. Species diversity and richness increased linearly with the proportion of native species across sites in the observational study. Sites fell into two clusters, a group of diverse native-dominated fields and a group of low diversity exotic-dominated fields. The experiment was conducted to better understand what underlies these differences. Species diversity was 41% higher and richness was 22% higher in native than exotic mixtures after two growing seasons. Reduced diversity in exotic communities resulted from lower complementarity and higher temporal niche overlap, occurred in plots that were both irrigated during summer and not irrigated, and was manifest in differences in phenology. These results indicate that exotic grasslands differ fundamentally from native systems. These differences should be taken into account in management and restoration plans.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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