|Kreyling, J; Jurasinski, G; Grant, K; Retzer, V; Jentsch, A; Beierkuhnlein, C: Winter warming pulses affect the development of planted temperate grassland and dwarf-shrub heath communities, Plant Ecology and Diversity, 4(1), 13-21 (2011), doi:10.1080/17550874.2011.558125|
|Key words: EVENT 1|
Background: Winter conditions are changing considerably due to climate change. Resulting alterations in the frequency of soil freeze-thaw cycles (FTCs) are ecologically important. Aim: We quantified the impact of winter soil-warming pulses on the community structure of temperate plant communities. Methods: The cover of vascular plant species in two vegetation types, each at three diversity levels was recorded 1 year before to 3 years after an FTC-manipulation that added five additional FTCs. Changes in species abundance patterns (Bray-Curtis similarity) were analysed by linear mixed effect models. Results: Communities exposed to additional FTCs showed less change in their species abundance patterns than the reference plots. Community development in the grassland differed between the FTC-manipulation and the reference plots in the first growing season after the FTC-manipulation, but such effects disappeared over time, whereas the divergence from the reference plots in the dwarf-shrub heath started in the second year after the FTC-manipulation and effects grew over time. Responses to FTCs were related to growth forms: some grasses increased after the FTC-manipulation, whereas the cover of dwarf shrubs was reduced. There was less change in species abundance distributions in the more diverse communities with legumes present. Conclusions: Winter climate change is a critical driver of temperate ecosystems. Short-term climatic events can have long-term implications on the structure of ecosystems. Community composition regulates alterations in the development and competitive balance of plant communities caused by soil warming pulses.
Physical constraints and biological controls of plant-environment interactions
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