Plant Ecology

, Volume 212, Issue 8, pp 1349–1361

Grassland composition, structure, and diversity patterns along major environmental gradients in the Central Tien Shan

  • John B. Taft
  • Loy R. Phillippe
  • Chris H. Dietrich
  • Kenneth R. Robertson
Article

Abstract

What species and traits signal vegetation types along prominent environmental gradients in the Central Tien Shan and what are the corresponding diversity patterns? Vegetation was sampled at 41 sites throughout the Kyrgyz Republic using quadrats stratified throughout a 1,000-m2 sample area. Relationships among major environmental gradients, vegetation structure, and species composition were explored with nonmetric multidimensional scaling. Species distributions were examined to characterize phytogeographic patterns. Seven vegetation types ranging from desert grassland to meadow steppe were identified with cluster analysis, ordered primarily along elevation/mean annual temperature gradients. Four arid grassland types were distinguished, ranging mainly from 900 to 1,700 m elevation, and characterized by co-dominance of grasses and forbs with secondary dominance by shrubs. Annual and biennial forbs equaled perennial forbs in total importance. Grasses include C3 and C4 species. Three montane grassland types were recognized and characterized by co-dominance of perennial C3 grasses and forbs. Transition to montane steppe occurred from 1,500 to 1,900 m and is correlated with absence of C4 grasses and dominance of Festuca valesiaca. Highest diversity was found at intermediate elevations, from 1,800 to 2,600 m, in meadow steppe habitats. Forty-six percent of 580 identified species are Middle Asian endemics and remaining species primarily have distributions including Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and western Siberia. Although grassland degradation from overgrazing has been chronic throughout the region, grasslands are widespread throughout the Kyrgyz Republic and many, particularly mid-elevation meadow steppes, retain high levels of native species diversity.

Keywords

Grazing Functional groups Kyrgyz Republic Middle Asia Nonmetric multidimensional scaling Species density Steppe 

Supplementary material

11258_2011_9911_MOESM1_ESM.doc (33 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 32 kb)
11258_2011_9911_MOESM2_ESM.xls (46 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLS 46 kb)
11258_2011_9911_MOESM3_ESM.doc (38 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOC 38 kb)

References

  1. Agakhanjanz O, Breckle SW (2002) Plant diversity and endemism in high mountains of Central Asia, the Caucasus and Siberia. In: Korner Ch, Spehn EM (eds) Mountain biodiversity. A global assessment. Parthenon Publishing, New York, pp 117–128Google Scholar
  2. Anderson MJ (2004) PERMDISP: a FORTRAN computer program for permutational analysis of multivariate dispersions (for any two-factor ANOVA design) using permutation tests. Department of Statistics, University of Auckland, NZGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson RC (2007) Evolution and origin of the central grassland of North America: climate, fire, and mammalian grazers. J Torrey Bot Soc 133:626–647Google Scholar
  4. Babaev AG (1982) Combating desertification in the USSR: problems and experience. Centre of International Projects GKNT, MoscowGoogle Scholar
  5. Babaev AG, Kharin NG (1999) The monitoring and forecast of desertification processes. In: Babaev AG (ed) Desert problems and desertification in central Asia. The Researches of the Desert Institute. Springer, Berlin, pp 59–75Google Scholar
  6. Berg LS (1950) Natural regions of the USSR. Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Cabido M, Ateca N, Astegiano ME, Anton AN (1997) Distribution of C3 and C4 grasses along an altitudinal gradient in central Argentina. J Biogeogr 24:197–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cheng Y, Nakamura T (2007) Phytosociological study of steppe vegetation in east Kazakhstan. Grassland Sci 53:172–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clarke KR, Gorley RN (2006) PRIMER v6: User manual/tutorial. PRIMER-E, PlymouthGoogle Scholar
  10. Czerepanov SK (1995) Vascular plants of Russia and adjacent states (the former USSR). Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Dickore WB, Miehe G (2002) Cold spots in the highest mountains of the world—diversity patterns and gradients in the flora of the Karakorum. In: Korner Ch, Spehn EM (eds) Mountain biodiversity. A global assessment. Parthenon Publishing, New York, pp 129–147Google Scholar
  12. Dufrene M, Legendre P (1997) Species assemblages and indicator species: the need for a flexible asymmetrical approach. Ecol Monogr 67:345–366Google Scholar
  13. Faith DP, Minchin PR, Belbin L (1987) Compositional dissimilarity as a robust measure of ecological distance. Vegetation 69:57–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fernandez-Gimenez M, Allen-Diaz B (2001) Vegetation change along gradients from water sources in three grazed Mongolian ecosystems. Plant Ecol 157:101–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gao YZ, Wang SP, Han XG, Patton BD, Nyren PE (2005) Competition between Artemisia frigida and Cleistogenes squarrosa under different clipping intensities in replacement series mixtures at different nitrogen levels. Grass Forage Sci 60:119–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gibson DJ (2009) Grasses and grassland ecology. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  17. Grainger A (1992) Characterization and assessment of desertification processes. In: Chapman GP (ed) Desertified grasslands: their biology and management. Academic Press, London, pp 17–34Google Scholar
  18. Groombridge B (1992) Global biodiversity: status of the earth’s living resources. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  19. Heinicke T (2003) Mires within the dry steppe zone of the Issyk-Kul basin (Kyrgyzstan)—part 1: soils, stratigraphy and hydrology. Telma 33:35–58Google Scholar
  20. Heinicke T (2004) Mires within the dry steppe zone of the Issyk-Kul basin (Kyrgyzstan)—part 2: vegetation and vertebrate fauna. Telma 34:93–122Google Scholar
  21. Kamelin RV (2002) A brief review of vegetation of Kyrgyzian and Botanico-geographical regions of Kyrgyzstan. In: Pimenov MG, Kijuykov EV (eds) The Umbelliferae of Kyrgyzstan. KMK Scientific Press, Moscow, pp 5–18Google Scholar
  22. Korovin EP (1961) Vegetation of Middle Asia and Southern Kazakhstan. Book 1, 2nd edn. Uzbekistan Academy of Science Press, Tashkent (in Russian)Google Scholar
  23. Kruskal JB (1964) Multidimensional scaling by optimizing goodness of fit to a nonmetric hypothesis. Psychometrika 29:1–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lance GN, Williams WT (1967) A general theory of classificatory sorting strategies. 1. Hierarchical systems. Comput J 9:373–380Google Scholar
  25. Lavrenko EM, Karamysheva ZV (1993) Steppes of the former Soviet Union and Mongolia. In: Copeland RT (ed) Natural grasslands. Eastern hemisphere and resume. Ecosystems of the World vol. 8B. Elsevier Science Publishers, Amsterdam, pp 3–59Google Scholar
  26. McCloud DE (1974) Man’s impact on world grasslands. Proc XII Int Grassl Congr 1(1):62–75Google Scholar
  27. McCune B, Grace JG (2002) Analysis of ecological communities. MjM Software Design, Gleneden Beach, Oregon, USAGoogle Scholar
  28. McCune B, Mefford MJ (1999) PC-ORD. Multivariate analysis of ecological data. Version 4.34, MjM Software, Gleneden Beach, Oregon, USAGoogle Scholar
  29. Ministry of Environmental Protection (1998) Kyrgyz Republic biodiversity strategy and action plan. Ministry of Environmental Protection, BishkekGoogle Scholar
  30. Mueller-Dombois D, Ellenberg H (1974) Aims and methods of vegetation ecology. Wiley, NYGoogle Scholar
  31. Nikol’skii AA (1994) North Eurasia. In: McNeely JA, Harrison J, Dingwall P (eds) Protecting nature: regional reviews of protected areas. IUCN, Gland, pp 137–155Google Scholar
  32. Novikov DV, Novikova NV, Anufriev GA, Dietrich CH (2006) Auchenorrhyncha (Hemiptera) of Kyrgyz grasslands. Russ Entomol J 15(3):303–310Google Scholar
  33. Pavlov VN (1974) Die Besonderheiten der Flora des westlichen Tienshan. Problem Botanik. Leningrad 12:63–70Google Scholar
  34. Ponomarenko S, Ponomarenko E (1996) Relieving centuries of stress on Russia’s heartland. Surviv Together 43(2):13–15Google Scholar
  35. Post WM, Sheperd JD (1974) Hierarchical agglomeration. University of Wisconsin, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  36. Samson FB, Knopf FL (1994) Prairie conservation in North America. Bioscience 44:418–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schickhoff U, Schluetz F, Borchardt PM (2008) Walnut-fruit forests of southern Kyrgyzstan: human–environmetnal interactions over the last 2000 years. In: Mucina L, et al (eds) Frontiers of vegetation science—an evolutionary angle. Keith Phillips Images, Somerset West, p 162–163Google Scholar
  38. Shimono A, Zhou H, Shen H, Hirota M, Ohtsuka T, Tang Y (2010) Patterns of plant diversity at high altitudes on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. J Plant Ecol 3:1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sneath D (1998) State policy and pasture degradation in inner Asia. Science 281:1147–1148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. ter Braak CJF, Smilauer P (2002) CANOCO reference manual and CanoDraw for Windows user’s guide. Software for canonical community ordination (version 4.5). Microcomputer Power, Ithaca, NYGoogle Scholar
  41. Terri JA, Stowe LG (1976) Climatic patterns and the distribution of C4 grasses in North America. Oecologia 23:1–12Google Scholar
  42. Titlyanova AA, Romoanova IP, Koshykh NP, Mironycheva-Tokareva NP (1999) Pattern and process in above-ground and below-ground components of grassland ecosystems. J Veg Sci 10:307–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Vykhodtsev IV (1976) Vegetation of the Tien-Shan—Alai mountain complex. The Academy of Sciences of Kyrgyz SSR, Frunze (in Russian)Google Scholar
  44. Wagner V (2009) Eurosiberian meadows at their southern edge: patterns and phytogeography in the NW Tien Shan. J Veg Sci 20:199–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Walter H (1985) Vegetation of the earth and ecological systems of the geo-biosphere, Third edn. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  46. Wishart D (1969) An algorithm for hierarchical classifications. Biometrics 25:165–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. World Trade Press (2007) Maps of mean annual precipitation and mean annual temperature for the Kyrgyz RepublicGoogle Scholar
  48. Xiao X, Ojima DS, Parton WJ, Chen Z, Chen D (1995) Sensitivity of Inner Mongolian grassland to climate change. J Biogeogr 22:643–648CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zavaleta ES, Kettley LS (2006) Ecosystem change along a woody invasion chronosequence in a California grassland. J Arid Environ 66:290–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Zavaleta ES, Shaw MR, Chiariello NR, Thomas BD, Cleland EE, Field CB, Mooney HA (2003) Responses of a California grassland community to three years of experimental climate change, elevated CO2, and N deposition. Ecol Monogr 73(4):585–604CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zhang W (1998) Changes in species diversity and canopy cover in steppe vegetation in Inner Mongolia under protection from grazing. Biodivers Conserv 7:1365–1381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zhou G, Wang Y, Wang S (2002) Responses of grassland ecosystems to precipitation and land use along the Northeast China transect. J Veg Sci 13:361–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • John B. Taft
    • 1
  • Loy R. Phillippe
    • 1
  • Chris H. Dietrich
    • 1
  • Kenneth R. Robertson
    • 1
  1. 1.Illinois Natural History Survey, Institute of Natural Resource SustainabilityUniversity of IllinoisChampaignUSA

Personalised recommendations