Journal cover Journal topic
Web Ecology An open-access peer-reviewed journal
Web Ecol., 17, 37-46, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/we-17-37-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Standard article
15 Aug 2017
Species richness and phylogenetic structure in plant communities: 20 years of succession
Jutta Stadler1, Stefan Klotz1, Roland Brandl2, and Sonja Knapp1 1Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research, Department Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4, 06120 Halle/Saale, Germany
2Philipps-University Marburg, Faculty of Biology, Department of Ecology, Animal Ecology, 35032 Marburg, Germany
Abstract. Secondary succession on arable fields is a popular system for studying processes influencing community assembly of plants. During early succession, the arrival and establishment of those propagules that can pass the environmental filters operating at a given site should be among the dominant processes leading to an initial increase in species richness. With ongoing succession, environmental filtering should decrease in relative importance compared to competitive interactions, which then should decrease species richness. Thereby, the phylogenetic structure of communities should change from random or clustered patterns during early succession to overdispersion. Disturbance is supposed to act as an additional filter, causing communities to be phylogenetically clustered. By analysing the species richness and phylogenetic structure of secondary succession in two different regions in Germany with three different disturbance levels each, we tested this general model. Although in one of the regions (Gimritz) we found the expected trajectory of species richness, phylogenetic structure did not follow the expected trend from random or clustered towards overdispersed communities. In the other region (Bayreuth), species richness did not follow the expected trajectory and phylogenetic structure remained clustered over the course of succession. A preliminary analysis of autecological characteristics of the species involved (Ellenberg indicator values) nevertheless showed clear contrasting trends. The idiosyncrasies of successional trajectories across sites might be due to the environmental context, the regional species pool as well as the legacy of former land use reflected in the seed bank.

Citation: Stadler, J., Klotz, S., Brandl, R., and Knapp, S.: Species richness and phylogenetic structure in plant communities: 20 years of succession, Web Ecol., 17, 37-46, https://doi.org/10.5194/we-17-37-2017, 2017.
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During early succession plant communities show a decrease in the initial species richness and a change in the phylogenetic structure from random or clustered to overdispersion. We tested this general model in two regional distinct sites. In one region we found the expected trajectory of species richness while phylogenetic structure did not follow the expected trend. In the other region species richness did not follow the expected trajectory and phylogenetic structure remained clustered.
During early succession plant communities show a decrease in the initial species richness and a...
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