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High-Resolution transect sampling and multiple scale diversity analyses for evaluating grassland resilience to climatic extremes

Bartha, S., Szabó, G., Csete, S., Purger, D., Házi, J., Csathó, A.I., Campetella, G., Canullo, R., Chelli, S., Tsakalos, J.L., Ónodi, G., Kröel-Dulay, G. and Zimmermann, Z. (2022) High-Resolution transect sampling and multiple scale diversity analyses for evaluating grassland resilience to climatic extremes. Land, 11 (3). Art. 378.

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Abstract

Diversity responses to climatic factors in plant communities are well understood from experiments, but less known in natural conditions due to the rarity of appropriate long-term observational data. In this paper, we use long-term transect data sampled annually in three natural grasslands of different species pools, soils, landscape contexts and land use histories. Analyzing these specific belt transect data of contiguous small sampling units enabled us to explore scale dependence and spatial synchrony of diversity patterns within and among sites. The 14-year study period covered several droughts, including one extreme event between 2011 and 2012. We demonstrated that all natural grasslands responded to droughts by considerable fluctuations of diversity, but, overall, they remained stable. The plant functional group of annuals showed high resilience at all sites, while perennials were resistant to droughts. Our results were robust to changing spatial scales of observations, and we also demonstrated that within-site spatial synchrony could be used as a sensitive indicator of external climatic effects. We propose the broad application of high-resolution belt transects for powerful and adaptive vegetation monitoring in the future.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Harry Butler Institute
Publisher: MDPI
Copyright: © 2022 The Authors.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/64286
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