, Volume 178, Issue 1, pp 111-120

Soil pH and species diversity in coastal dunes

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Abstract

Soil pH was measured at two different spatial scales in coastal dunes on Norderney, North Sea, and in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Baltic Sea, Germany. Relationships between the variability in soil pH, species richness and species diversity are presented. Species richness and diversity were highest in grey dunes, where soil pH was at intermediate levels; both variables were lower in yellow and brown dunes. The variability in pH increased with increasing species diversity and also with scale. Overall, soil pH variability decreased with increasing vegetation cover. The lowest pH heterogeneity was found in heath dominated by Empetrum nigrum L. and grey dunes dominated by Campylopus introflexus (Hedw.) Brid. Increasing abundance of dominant species and decreasing species diversity of vegetation apparently reduces soil heterogeneity. Decreasing species diversity of vegetation is likely to explain decreasing variability in soil pH.