Species co‐occurrence shapes spatial variability in plant diversity–biomass relationships in natural rangelands under different grazing intensities

Sanaei, Anvar; Sayer, Emma J.; Saiz, Hugo; Yuan, Zuoqiang; Ali, Arshad (2021). Species co‐occurrence shapes spatial variability in plant diversity–biomass relationships in natural rangelands under different grazing intensities. Land degradation & development, 32(15), pp. 4390-4401. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 10.1002/ldr.4044

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Grazing can alter plant species interactions in natural rangelands, which in turn might influence the productivity of the ecosystem but we do not fully understand how spatial variability in plant diversity-biomass relationships are modulated by grazing intensity. Here, we hypothesized that plant species co-occurrence in rangelands is mainly driven by niche segregation due to grazing and heterogeneity in local resources, and that grazing, therefore, modulates diversity–biomass relationships. We tested our hypothesis across 35 rangeland sites in Iran, using a species co-occurrence index to assess plant spatial aggregation within each site. At each site, we measured aboveground biomass, plant diversity, topography, soil nutrients, and three levels of grazing intensity. High spatial segregation of plant communities (low species co-occurrence) was found at heavily grazed sites, whereas greater spatial aggregation (high species co-occurrence) was found on low and moderate grazed sites, showing varied associational patterns of species with grazing intensity. Soil nutrients increased with grazing intensity and spatial segregation of plant communities was greater at sites with high soil nutrient concentrations, indicating that grazing intensity influences the spatial heterogeneity of plant communities via nutrients deposited in urine and feces. Declining plant biomass with grazing intensity was related to a strong decline in graminoid species diversity, which suggests that the diversity-biomass relationship is influenced by selective grazing of palatable species. The relationships between species co-occurrence and biomass or plant diversity suggest non-random patterns in species co-occurrences with grazing intensity, which could be the result of competition driven by high livestock grazing intensity. We, therefore, suggest that rangeland stocking rates should be managed properly to maintain rangeland production while promoting plant diversity.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Biodiversity

UniBE Contributor:

Saiz Bustamante, Hugo

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

1085-3278

Publisher:

John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

09 Sep 2021 13:41

Last Modified:

16 Sep 2021 01:33

Publisher DOI:

10.1002/ldr.4044

Uncontrolled Keywords:

diversity-biomass relationships; facilitation; grazing intensity; spatial segregation of plant communities; species competition

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/158377

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/158377

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