Data from: The pace of plant community change is accelerating in remnant prairies
Alstad, Amy O. et al. (2017), Data from: The pace of plant community change is accelerating in remnant prairies, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.jc00c
Patterns of biodiversity are changing rapidly. “Legacy studies” use historical data to document changes between past and present communities, revealing long-term trends that can often be linked to particular drivers of ecological change. However, a single pair of historical samples cannot ascertain whether rates of change are consistent or whether the impact and identity of drivers have shifted. Using data from a second resurvey of 47 Wisconsin prairie remnants, we show that the pace of community change has increased with shifts in the strength of particular drivers. Annual rates of local colonization and extinction accelerated by 129 and 214%, respectively, between 1950 and 1987 and between 1987 and 2012. Two anthropogenic drivers—patch area and fire history—increased in importance between these periods. As the strength and number of anthropogenic forces increase, rates of biodiversity change are likely to accelerate in other ecosystems as well.