reference : Productivity and species richness across an environmental gradient in a fire-dependent ecosystem

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Bibliographic fields
reftype Journal Article
Abstract The fire-dependent longleaf pine–wiregrass (Pinus palustris Mill.–Aristida beyrichiana Trin. & Rupr.) savannas of the southeastern United States provide a unique opportunity to examine the relationship between productivity and species richness in a natural ecosystem because of the extremely high number of species and their range across a wide ecological amplitude (sandhills to edges of wetlands). We used a natural gradient to examine how plant species richness and plant community structure vary with standing crop biomass (which in this system is proportional to annual net productivity) as a function of soil moisture and nitrogen mineralization rates in a frequently burned longleaf pine–wiregrass savanna. Highest ground cover biomass and highest species richness were found at the same position along the gradient, the wet-mesic sites. Relative differences in species richness among site types were independent of scale, ranging from 0.01 m2 to 100 m2. Nitrogen availability was negatively correlated with species richness. Dominance of wiregrass (in terms of biomass) was consistent across the gradient and not correlated with species richness. Regardless of site type, the community structure of the savannas was characterized by many perennial species with infrequent occurrences, a factor in the low temporal heterogeneity (percent similarity between seasons and years) and high within-site spatial heterogeneity (percent dissimilarity of vegetation composition). The coexistence of numerous species is likely due to the high frequency of fire that removes competing hardwood vegetation and litter and to the suite of fire-adapted perennial species that, once established, are able to persist. Our results suggest that soil moisture is an important factor regulating both the number of species present and community production within the defined gradient of this study.
Author Kirkman, L. Katherine; Mitchell, Robert J.; Helton, R. Carol; Drew, Mark B.
DOI 10.2307/3558437
Issue 11
Journal American Journal of Botany
Pages 2119-2128
Title Productivity and species richness across an environmental gradient in a fire-dependent ecosystem
Volume 88
Year 2001
Bibliographic identifiers
_record_number 26315
_uuid fc131998-4745-465f-8cf2-3f140e6e479c