Woody vegetation patch types affect herbaceous species richness and composition in a Mediterranean ecosystem
Ecology seeks to study the factors affecting the distribution of species. In terms of their effects on species richness and composition, woody plants can be considered as dominant factors which extensively affect their environment, changing the distribution of resources in space and time. In structurally rich and diverse plant communities, such as Mediterranean ecosystems, the specific species that form the woody patch can be important. The specific woody species patch type may impose a set of abiotic conditions, which in turn would result in specific traits of the given herbaceous community under that patch. Evidence revealed in this study suggests that the general notion of a two-patch type (woody and non-woody) system for describing ecosystems is simplistic, and may be misleading. We found that patterns of herbaceous species richness and composition are related to specific woody species patch type. We found that herbaceous species richness under each patch type coincided with respective differences in solar radiation reaching the sub-canopy. Accounting for specific patch characteristics may largely enhance our understanding of plant community structure.
KeywordsCommunity structure Randomization tests Redundancy analysis Vegetation mosaic Weighted preference index
Generalized Linear Mixed Model
Photosynthetic Active Radiation
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