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Data from: Elevated precipitation alters the community structure of spring ephemerals by changing dominant species density in Central Asia

Citation

Jia, Yangyang et al. (2020), Data from: Elevated precipitation alters the community structure of spring ephemerals by changing dominant species density in Central Asia, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.g1m5k70

Abstract

Global climate change is one of the most pressing conservation challenges; in particular, changes in precipitation regimes have already substantially influenced terrestrial ecosystems. However, the mechanisms influencing precipitation changes on individual plants and the plant communities in desert grasslands have yet to be fully elucidated. We therefore examine the influence of increased precipitation on plant community compositions in the Gurbantunggut Desert, Xinjiang, northwestern China from 2005 to 2009. We found that growth of all plant species and the community productivities increased markedly with enhanced water input. Cover of ephemeral synusia also significantly increased due to increased precipitation, implying that the role of the ephemeral community for stabilization of sand dunes was strengthened by increased precipitation. The response of plant community compositions to increased precipitation was primarily reflected as changes in plant density, while increased precipitation did not affect plant species richness and the diversity index. Dominant species drove the response of plant density to increasing precipitation during the five-year study period. However, the relative responses of rare species were stronger than those of the dominant species, thereby potentially driving species turnover with long-term increased precipitation. This finding improved our understanding of how increased precipitation drives the changes in plant community composition in desert grasslands and will help to better predict changes in the community composition of ephemerals under future global climate change scenarios.

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