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Cryptogam plant community stability: warming weakens influences of species richness but enhances effects of evenness

Citation

Yu, Qiang; Gu, Qian; Yu, Qiang; Grogan, Paul (2022), Cryptogam plant community stability: warming weakens influences of species richness but enhances effects of evenness, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5tb2rbp6g

Abstract

Community stability is a fundamental factor sustaining ecosystem functioning and is affected by species richness and species evenness. The Arctic is warming more rapidly than other biomes, and cryptogam plant species (specifically lichens and bryophytes in this study) are major contributors to tundra biodiversity and productivity. However, to our knowledge, the impacts of warming on cryptogam community stability and the underlying mechanisms have not been investigated. We conducted a 13-year summer warming experiment in mesic birch hummock tundra vegetation near Daring Lake in the continental interior of low Arctic Canada, and recorded patterns of cryptogam species abundance in several different growing seasons. Warming decreased the stability of total community abundance, had no effects on species richness, but increased species evenness and species synchrony. Structural equation model analyses indicated that higher species richness was the principal factor associated with the stronger community abundance stability in the control plots, and that this effect was driven primarily by a negative correlation with species synchrony. By contrast, higher species evenness was the principal factor associated with the weakened community abundance stability in the warming plots, and this effect was driven primarily by a positive correlation with species synchrony. Our study suggests that climate warming could reduce cryptogam plant community stability in low Arctic tundra, and therefore decrease important ecosystem services including carbon storage and food availability to caribou in northern regions.

Funding

The National Key R&D Program of China, Award: 2017YFA0604802

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada

The Northern Studies Training Program

The Ontario Trillium Scholarship

The Chinese Scholarship Council