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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Decomposing the Complexity of Species Coexistence Patterns: An Example from a Semi-Arid Grassland Transition Zone

Authors
item Hochstrasser, T - COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY
item PETERS, DEBRA

Submitted to: US-International Association for Landscape Ecology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 1999
Publication Date: July 29, 1999
Citation: HOCHSTRASSER, T., PETERS, D.C. DECOMPOSING THE COMPLEXITY OF SPECIES COEXISTENCE PATTERNS: AN EXAMPLE FROM A SEMIARID GRASSLAND TRANSITION ZONE. 5TH WORLD CONGRESS, US-INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY. 1999. V. I(A-K). ABSTRACT P. 67.

Technical Abstract: One of the greatest difficulties in species diversity studies is to understand the biotic and abiotic factors driving coexistence patterns at the landscape scale. Our objective was to decompose the complex patterns of species coexistence on a landscape into a multiscale, stratified mosaic of habitat types. We defined the structure of a number of factors (soil texture, kangaroo rat burrows and presence of dominant grasses or shrubs) at a grassland/shrubland ecotone in central New Mexico, USA and evaluated plant species diversity associated with each factor. We measured species diversity for each habitat type on the appropriate scale defined by each factor. Because the spatial pattern of soil texture was correlated with the other two factors, the effect of dominant plants and kangaroo rats could not be completely separated from effects of soils. We found important differences between the number and abundance of species coexisting with dominant grasses compared to shrubs. Species diversity was negatively correlated with the density of dominant plants, yet was positively related to burrowing activities of kangaroo rats. Our results demonstrate the importance of stratifying the landscape based on biotic and abiotic factors in order to distinguish the separate effects of each factor on species coexistence patterns.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014