Article

Plant Ecology

, Volume 214, Issue 2, pp 207-219

First online:

Plant species richness–productivity relationships in a low-productive boreal region

  • Irena AxmanováAffiliated withDepartment of Botany and Zoology, Masaryk University Email author 
  • , Milan ChytrýAffiliated withDepartment of Botany and Zoology, Masaryk University
  • , Jiří DanihelkaAffiliated withDepartment of Botany and Zoology, Masaryk UniversityDepartment of Vegetation Ecology, Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
  • , Pavel LustykAffiliated withDepartment of Botany and Zoology, Masaryk University
  • , Martin KočíAffiliated withDepartment of Botany and Zoology, Masaryk University
  • , Svatava KubešováAffiliated withDepartment of Botany and Zoology, Masaryk UniversityDepartment of Botany, Moravian Museum
  • , Michal HorsákAffiliated withDepartment of Botany and Zoology, Masaryk University
  • , Mikhail M. CherosovAffiliated withInstitute for Biological Problems of Cryolithozone, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
  • , Paraskovia A. GogolevaAffiliated withFaculty of Biology and Geography, North-Eastern Federal University Named After M.K. Ammosov

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Abstract

Local species richness–productivity (SR–P) relationship is usually reported as unimodal if long productivity gradients are sampled. However, it tends to be monotonically increasing in low-productive environments due to the decreasing part of the SR–P curve being truncated. Previous work indicated that this can hold true for forest herb layers, because of an upper bound on productivity caused mainly by canopy shading. Here, we ask whether the same pattern exists in a region with an upper bound on productivity caused by a harsh climate. We sampled herbaceous vegetation of boreal forests and grasslands in a low-productive region of central Yakutia (NE Siberia) with dry and winter-cool continental climate. We collected data on species composition, herb-layer productivity (aboveground herbaceous biomass), soil chemistry and light availability. We applied regression models to discriminate between monotonically increasing, decreasing and unimodal responses of herb-layer species richness to measured variables and analysed trends in the species-pool size and beta diversity along the productivity gradient. Our expectation of the monotonically increasing SR–P relationship was confirmed for neither forest herb layers nor grasslands. In the forest herb layers, no relationship was detected. In grasslands, the relationship was unimodal with species richness decline starting at much lower productivity levels than in more productive temperate grasslands. Potential causes for this decline are either limitation of local species richness by the species pool, which contains few species adapted to more productive habitats, or competitive exclusion, which can become an important control of species richness under lower levels of productivity than is the case in temperate grasslands.

Keywords

Competitive exclusion Forest herb layer Grassland Herbaceous biomass Humped-back model Plant diversity Siberia Species pool Yakutia