Succession and fluctuation in Artemisia dominated grassland
- Cite this article as:
- Collins, S.L., Bradford, J.A. & Sims, P.L. Vegetatio (1988) 73: 89. doi:10.1007/BF00031856
- 70 Downloads
Vegetation dynamics were studied from 1940 to 1978 in two grazed pastures and associated exclosures in sand sagebrush (Artemisia filifolia) dominated grassland, western Oklahoma, USA. In both pastures and one exclosure, pattern of vegetation change reflected fluctuation rather than succession. In the other exclosure, the grassland exhibited a directional change from annual grasses and forbs to dominance by perennial grasses. Rate of change was consistent during the 39 year period. Cover of grasses increased more in grazed than ungrazed areas. Grass cover was negatively correlated with high air temperatures early in the growing season. Forb cover remained relatively constant over time and shrub cover peaked during the 1960s. Abundance of annuals and cool season species was positively correlated with rainfall early in the growing season.
Species diversity and richness were lowest in the ungrazed areas, as a result of increased dominance by perennial grasses such as Schizachyrium scoparium. In pastures and exclosures, richness was positively correlated with growing season precipitation. Cover of the common species differed among sample areas within years and fluctuated between years. Few general patterns emerged from correlations of environmental variables with cover of individual species. In general, vegetation dynamics in these sand sagebrush grasslands reflect a tradeoff in that total cover changes little over time because the loss of some species is compensated for by increased growth of others. Such trade-offs reflect the individualistic response of the component species within each pasture or exclosure. Although changes in growth form composition were related to climatic fluctuation, broad-scale climatic variables could not successfully predict small-scale patterns of change by individual species over time.