Seasonal dynamics of plant species at fine scale in wooded pastures

Abstract

A cell-grid method was used to survey seasonal changes in four herbaceous communities of a wooded pasture. Permanent plots consisted in 1-m2 grids subdivided into 100 cells of 1 dm2. In each cell of each plot and every month from May to September, we estimated dominance, and grazing occurrence of all species. Plant communities included an eutrophic grazed meadow, a temporary refused meadow, an underwood herb community and an oligotrophic lawn.

Our results showed that seasonal changes in species composition were very strong and scale-dependent. Changes at plot scale were mainly driven by a seasonal shift. Changes at cell scale suggested high small-scale dynamics of species. Despite high changes at cell scale, the structure of the community did not change and local species richness did not show any trend. We found no correlation between the turnover at cell scale and cattle activity.

We conclude that dynamics and internal species turnover of the community at fine scale and short time seem more driven by internal characteristics of the community than by disturbances induced by cattle. Furthermore, at seasonal scale, plant communities may be stable in their structure despite fluctuations in their texture.

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Correspondence to F. Kohler.

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Kohler, F., Gillet, F., Progin, M.A. et al. Seasonal dynamics of plant species at fine scale in wooded pastures. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY 5, 7–17 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1556/ComEc.5.2004.1.2

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Keywords

  • Carousel model
  • Cattle activity
  • Scale
  • Spatial monitoring
  • Species mobility
  • Turnover
  • Vegetation dynamics