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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Distribution of Plant Species at a Biome Transition Zone in New Mexico

Authors
item Kroel-Dulay, Gyorgy - HUNGARIAN ACADEMY/SCIENCE
item Odor, Peter - L. EOTVOS UNIVERSITY
item Peters, Debra
item Hochstrasser, Tamara - NEW MEXICO STATE UNIV

Submitted to: Journal of Vegetation Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 18, 2004
Publication Date: August 1, 2004
Citation: Kroel-Dulay, G., Odor, P., Peters, D.C., Hochstrasser, T. 2004. Distribution of plant species at a biome transition zone in New Mexico. Journal of Vegetation Science. 15(4):531-538.

Interpretive Summary: The objective of this study was to compare plant species and life form composition of two patch types at a shortgrass steppe, Chihuahuan Desert grassland biome transition zone in central New Mexico, USA. We sought to determine if species were associated with different patch types and if that association was related to differences in soil texture between patch types and the geographic range of subordinate species. Our results showed that many species were found in both patch types, although 31% of the species were only found in blue grama patches and 23% were only found in black grama dominated patches. Soils of blue grama patches had higher clay content than soils of black grama patches. We conclude that patch types at this transition zone have characteristic species composition related to local constraints rather than affinities to the broad-scale biomes.

Technical Abstract: The objective of this study was to compare plant species and life form composition of two patch types at a shortgrass steppe, Chihuahuan Desert grassland biome transition zone in central New Mexico, USA. We sought to determine if species were associated with different patch types and if that association was related to differences in soil texture between patch types and the geographic range of subordinate species. Patches dominated by either blue grama, the dominant species in the shortgrass steppe, or black grama, the dominant species in the Chihuahuan Desert grasslands, were sampled at multiple scales for the occurrence of subordinate species and soil texture. Of the 52 subordinate species analyzed, 16 species were associated with blue-grama-dominated patches and 12 species with black-grama-dominated patches. Patches dominated by blue grama were richer in annual grasses and forbs, whereas patches dominated by black grama contained more perennials forbs and shrubs and subshrubs. Soils of blue-grama-dominated patches had higher clay and lower rock contents compared with soils of black-grama-dominated patches. Differences in species characteristics of the dominant species, as well as differences in soil texture between patch types, contribute to patch-scale variation in species and life form composition. Our results show that patch types at this biome transition zone have characteristic life form and species composition, but species are associated to patch types due to local constraints, independently from their affinity to the adjacent biomes.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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