||Grassland type and seasonal effects have a bigger influence on plant functional and taxonomical diversity than prairie dog disturbances in semiarid grasslands
||Rodriguez-Barrera, M.G.; Kühn, I.
; Estrada-Castillón, E.; Cord, A.F.
||Ecology and Evolution
||CLE; BZF; iDiv
||T5 Future Landscapes
|Data and Software links
||animal–plant interactions; disturbance, drylands; functional diversity; grassland ecosystems; plant diversity; prairie dogs; seasonal effect
- Prairie dogs (Cynomys sp.) are considered
keystone species and ecosystem engineers for their grazing and burrowing
activities (summarized here as disturbances). As climate changes and
its variability increases, the mechanisms underlying organisms'
interactions with their habitat will likely shift. Understanding the
mediating role of prairie dog disturbance on vegetation structure, and
its interaction with environmental conditions through time, will
increase knowledge on the risks and vulnerability of grasslands.
- Here, we compared how plant taxonomical diversity,
functional diversity metrics, and community-weighted trait means (CWM)
respond to prairie dog C. mexicanus disturbance across grassland types and seasons (dry and wet) in a priority conservation semiarid grassland of Northeast Mexico.
- Our findings suggest that functional metrics and CWM
analyses responded to interactions between prairie dog disturbance,
grassland type and season, whilst species diversity and cover measures
were less sensitive to the role of prairie dog disturbance. We found
weak evidence that prairie dog disturbance has a negative effect on
vegetation structure, except for minimal effects on C4 and graminoid
cover, but which depended mainly on season. Grassland type and season
explained most of the effects on plant functional and taxonomic
diversity as well as CWM traits. Furthermore, we found that leaf area as
well as forb and annual cover increased during the wet season,
independent of prairie dog disturbance.
- Our results provide evidence that grassland type and
season have a stronger effect than prairie dog disturbance on the
vegetation of this short-grass, water-restricted grassland ecosystem. We
argue that focusing solely on disturbance and grazing effects is
misleading, and attention is needed on the relationships between
vegetation and environmental conditions which will be critical to
understand semiarid grassland dynamics under future climate change
conditions in the region.
|Persistent UFZ Identifier
|Rodriguez-Barrera, M.G., Kühn, I., Estrada-Castillón, E., Cord, A.F. (2022):
Grassland type and seasonal effects have a bigger influence on plant functional and taxonomical diversity than prairie dog disturbances in semiarid grasslands
Ecol. Evol. 12 (7), e9040