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Dryad

Space resource utilization of dominant species integrates abundance- and functional-based processes for better predictions of plant diversity dynamics

Cite this dataset

Zhang, Pengfei (2022). Space resource utilization of dominant species integrates abundance- and functional-based processes for better predictions of plant diversity dynamics [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.tqjq2bw3k

Abstract

Sustainable ecosystem management relies on our ability to predict changes in plant diversity and to understand the underlying mechanisms. Empirical evidence demonstrates that abundance- and functional-based processes simultaneously explain the loss of plant diversity in response to human activities. Recently, a novel indicator based on percent cover (CoverD) and maximum height (HeightD) of the dominant plant species – Space Resource Utilization (SRUD) – has proven to give robust and better predictions of plant diversity dynamics than community biomass. Whether the superior predictive ability of SRUD is due to its capacity to simultaneously capture abundance- and functional-based processes remains unknown. Here, we tested this hypothesis by quantifying mechanistic links between changes in SRUD and biodiversity in response to nutrients and herbivores. Furthermore, we assessed the relative contribution of dominant, intermediate, and rare species to reduced density of individuals by combining null model analysis with field experiments. We found that SRUD successfully captured changes in ground-level light availability and changes in the number of individuals to predict plant diversity dynamics, and each of CoverD and HeightD partly and independently contributed to both processes. Comparative results from null model analysis and field experiments confirmed that individual losses of dominant, intermediate, and rare species followed non-random processes. Specifically, compared with random loss process, rare species lost proportionally more individuals and thus disproportionately contributed to species loss, while dominant and intermediate species lost less. Our results demonstrate that SRUD captures both abundance- and functional-based processes thus explaining why SRUD provides more accurate predictions of changes in species diversity. Given that rare species can play an important role in shaping community structure, resisting against invasion, impacting higher trophic levels, and providing multiple ecosystem functions, reducing the SRU of dominant species could alleviate the risk of exclusion of rare species by mitigating abundance- and functional-based competition processes.

Methods

Species level height, cover, biomass and abundance were obtained directly from field survey of quadrat. species level sru is obtained by multiplying the height and cover of the species. community level biomass, abundance and sru were obtained by adding species level biomass, abundance and sru, respectively.

Funding

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 32101267