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Data from: Experimental assessment of biotic and abiotic filters driving community composition

Cite this dataset

Švamberková, Eva; Leps, Jan (2021). Data from: Experimental assessment of biotic and abiotic filters driving community composition [Dataset]. Dryad.


Species occurrence in a site can be limited by both the abiotic environment and biotic interactions. These two factors operate in concert, but their relative importance is often unclear. By experimentally introducing seeds or plants into competition-free gaps or into the intact vegetation, we can disentangle the biotic and abiotic effects on plant establishment. We established a seed sowing/transplant experiment in three different meadows. Species were introduced, as seeds and pre-grown transplants, into competition-free gaps and the intact vegetation. They included 12 resident plants from the locality and 18 species typical for different habitats. Last two years, gaps were overgrown with vegetation from surrounding plants and we observed the competitive exclusion of our focal plants. We compared plant survival with the expected occurrence in target locality (Beals index). Many of the species with habitat preferences different from our localities were able to successfully establish from seeds and grow in the focal habitat if competition was removed. They included species typical for much drier conditions. These species were thus not limited by the abiotic conditions, but by competition. Pre-grown transplants were less sensitive to competition, when compared to seedlings germinated from seeds. Beals index significantly predicted both species success in gaps and the ability to withstand competition. Survival in a community is dependent on the adaptation to both the abiotic environment and biotic interactions. Statistically significant correlation coefficients of the ratio of seedling survival in vegetation and gaps with Beals index suggest the importance of biotic interactions as a determinant of plant community composition. To disentangle the importance of abiotic and biotic effect on plant establishment, it is important to distinguish between species pool as a set of species typically found in given community type (determined by Beals index) and a set of species for which the abiotic conditions are suitable.


Czech Science Foundation, Award: 20-02901S