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Local-scale disturbance by Siberian marmots has little influence on regional plant richness in a Mongolian grassland

Abstract

Our objective was to examine the relative importance of local-scale disturbance by Siberian marmots in increasing regional (landscape-wide) plant richness. We used an additive diversity partitioning framework and quantified species richness patterns of grassland plant communities affected by marmot disturbance across different spatial scales: within and among on- and off-marmot-mound subsites, among sites, and among landscape units (corresponding to α and three levels of β richness). Values of β richness among subsites and β richness among landscape units were similar to those expected by chance. This suggests that plant species are randomly distributed among subsites and among landscape units, despite the prediction based on previous studies that local-scale disturbance by Siberian marmots and its interactive effects with landscape contexts disproportionately influence spatial patterns of plant species. Of the spatial components of regional richness, only the β richness among sites was significantly different from the expected value, probably reflecting the differential spatial pattern of disturbance by marmots at a site scale. The β richness among landscape units contributed the most to regional richness, whereas β richness among subsites and among sites contributed less. Thus, our results suggest that local-scale disturbance by Siberian marmots has little influence on regional plant richness in a Mongolian grassland.

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Acknowledgments

This work was financially supported by the Sumitomo Foundation for Environmental Research (No. 103117), with additional support from Tohoku University’s Global COE program “Ecosystem Adaptability Science for the Future” (No. J03) and a Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists B (No. 23710278) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan.

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Correspondence to Takehiro Sasaki.

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Sasaki, T., Yoshihara, Y. Local-scale disturbance by Siberian marmots has little influence on regional plant richness in a Mongolian grassland. Plant Ecol 214, 29–34 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-012-0142-1

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Keywords

  • Additive partitioning
  • Arid and semi-arid ecosystems
  • Beta diversity
  • Ecosystem engineer
  • Mongolia
  • Species richness