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Native and alien species diversity at the local and regional scales in a grazed California grassland

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Serpentine meadows in Northern California supported higher species richness at the 1-m2 scale than adjacent nonserpentine meadows, and had a considerably higher proportion of native species. Within each soil type, total species richness (natives plus aliens) was unrelated to biomass, cover, soil depth, or soil characteristics (N, P, Ca++, Mg++, water-holding capacity). However, the proportion of native species on serpentine was higher in meadows with lower levels of phosphorus and a lower calcium/magnesium ratio; the proportion of native species in nonserpentine meadows was higher on cool (north to northeast facing) slopes. At a regional scale, some of these effects were partly reversed; the rate at which new species accumulated with the addition of new sites, or beta diversity, was highest for native plant species in nonserpentine meadows. All of the above effects were independent of whether grazing by cattle was absent (removed 13 years ago) or present. The status of low-productivity serpentine soils as a refuge for native grassland species appears to be the result of their abiotic resistance to alien species, but not of a negative relationship between productivity and total species richness.

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Received: 10 April 1999 / Accepted: 4 June 1999

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Harrison, S. Native and alien species diversity at the local and regional scales in a grazed California grassland. Oecologia 121, 99–106 (1999).

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