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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Burns, Oregon » Range and Meadow Forage Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #388437

Research Project: Restoration and Conservation of Great Basin Ecosystems

Location: Range and Meadow Forage Management Research

Title: Plant community data from a statewide survey of paired serpentine and non-serpentine soils in California, USA

item MILLER, JESSE - Stanford University
item Copeland, Stella
item DAVIES, KENDI - University Of Colorado
item ANACKER, BRIAN - Boulder County Parks And Open Space
item SAFFORD, HUGH - Us Forest Service (FS)
item HARRISON, SUSAN - University Of California, Davis

Submitted to: Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/28/2021
Publication Date: 1/24/2022
Citation: Miller, J.E., Copeland, S.M., Davies, K., Anacker, B., Safford, H., Harrison, S. 2022. Plant community data from a statewide survey of paired serpentine and non-serpentine soils in California, USA. Ecology. 103(6): Article e3644.

Interpretive Summary: This is a dataset release for sites sampled for plant diversity and abundance associated with soil factors in the California Floristic province (California and southwestern Oregon). The paired design of the sampling focuses on a soil contrast: serpentine versus adjacent non-serpentine soils. Serpentine soils are derived from ultramafic geologic substrates, which are distinguished by high metal content, high magnesium to calcium ratios, and low macronutrient levels, and occur in patches of various size and isolation, associated with underlying geology. The extreme nutrient limitations and high metal content of serpentine soils restrict plant growth, but also spur species evolution, and many species occur only on serpentine soils in the region. Serpentine soils generally have lower abundance of most invasive species than non-serpentine habitats. Previously, this dataset was used to address the effects of habitat patchiness (serpentine ‘islands’) and climate and extreme drought on plant communities across multiple scales and levels of organization (taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic).

Technical Abstract: Soils derived from ultramafic parent materials (hereafter serpentine) provide habitat for unique plant communities containing species with adaptations to the low nutrient levels, high magnesium':'calcium ratios, and high metal content (Ni, Zn) that characterize serpentine. Plants on serpentine have long been studied in evolution and ecology, and plants adapted to serpentine contribute disproportionately to plant diversity in many parts of the world. In 2000–2003, serpentine plant communities were sampled at 107 locations representing the full range of occurrence of serpentine in California, USA, spanning large gradients in climate. In 2009–2010, plant communities were similarly sampled at 97 locations on nonserpentine soil, near to and paired with 97 of the serpentine sampling locations. (Some serpentine locations were revisited in 2009–2010 to assess the degree of change since 2000–2003, which was minimal.) At each serpentine or nonserpentine location, a north- and a south-facing 50'×'10'm plot were sampled. This design produced 97 “sites” each consisting of four “plots” (north-south exposure, serpentine-nonserpentine soil). All plots were initially visited three or more times over two'years to record plant diversity and cover, and a subset were revisited in 2014 to examine community change after a drought. The original question guiding the study was how plant diversity is shaped by the spatially patchy nature of the serpentine habitat. Subsequently, we investigated how climate drives plant diversity at multiple scales (within locations, between locations on the same and different soil types, and across entire regions) and at different levels of organization (taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic). There are no copyright restrictions and users should cite this data paper in publications that result from use of the data.