Plant Ecology

, 206:127 | Cite as

Soil chemistry of local vegetation gradients in sandy calcareous grasslands



Acidification and N-deposition are continuous processes that alter the composition of plant communities. We investigated vegetation transitions in sandy grasslands and tested two hypotheses: (1) a shift from vegetation dominated by Koeleria glauca to one dominated by Corynephorus canescens is due to acidification and (2) a shift from vegetation dominated by K. glauca to one dominated by Arrhenatherum elatius is due to increased mineral-N. The occurrence of K. glauca and C. canescens followed pH shifts strikingly well. However, the pH varied considerably between sites, and we found that differences in preference for bare sand may be important for the coexistence of these two species at both high and low pH. In 75% of the gradients, the dominance of A. elatius was related to high content of mineral-N. Most species preferred lime-rich soils and we concluded that both N-enrichment and acidification may lead to loss of species in calcareous sandy grasslands.


Sandy grasslands Acidification Decalcification Sand steppe N enrichment Succession 



Financial support from Region Skåne, The Swedish Research Council, The Swedish Research Council for the Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS) and the Oskar and Lilli Lamm Memorial Foundation is gratefully acknowledged. We also wish to thank Hans Henrik Bruun for statistical advice and for comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section of Plant Ecology and Systematics, Department of EcologyLund UniversityLundSweden

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