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Biotic and abiotic changes along a cyclic succession driven by shrubs in semiarid steppes from Patagonia

Por: Cipriotti, Pablo Ariel. Departamento de Métodos Cuantitativos y Sistemas de Información, Facultad de Agronomía – IFEVA, Universidad de Buenos Aires / CONICET, Av. San Martín 4453 (C1417DSE), Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina. E-mail: cipriott@agro.uba.ar.
Colaborador(es): Aguiar, Martín Roberto. Cátedra de Ecología, Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente, Facultad de Agronomía – IFEVA, Universidad de Buenos Aires / CONICET, Av. San Martín 4453 (C1417DSE), Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.
ISSN: 0032-079X.Tipo de material: Artículos y capítulos. Recurso electrónico.Tema(s): COLONIZATION | GAP-PHASE DYNAMICS | GRASSSHRUB COEXISTENCE | LEGACY EFFECTS | PATCH DYNAMICS | PLANT STRATEGIES | TWO–PHASE MOSAICS | Recursos en línea: Haga clic para acceso en línea | LINK AL EDITOR En: Plant and soil Vol.414, no.1-2 (2017), p.295-308, grafs.Resumen: Aim We studied the legacy effects of shrubs during the downgrade phase of high–cover patches. Specifically, are woody species able to modify environmental attributes at patch level to such an extent as to alter the colonization once they have vacated their original position? Methods We monitored five environmental variables along an experimental four-stage downgrading gradient of high–cover patches during two years in cold- and warm-seasons, individual plant growth during three years, as well as the floristic composition of patches along the same gradient after 13 years. Results The downgrade of high–cover patches reduces the aboveground protection due to the increase in wind speed (400–500%) and evaporation rate (43–160%) associated with shrub death and senescence. In addition, high–cover patches increase the total soil nitrogen (400–600%) and reduce the infiltration rate (44–73%) on the top layer. Leaf length and flower culms of grass tussocks were lower in bare soil patches (7.5 cm and 3) compared to whatever degradation stage of high–cover patches (9–10 cm and 18–32). Floristic composition after 13 years reveals that grass species occupied the patch stages differentially, with a disjunctive pattern among species within the Poa and Pappostipa genus. Conclusions Legacy effects prompted by shrubs through changes in soil properties at the horizontal plane can conditioned the patch dynamics. The ability of different plant species to cope with the spatial heterogeneity at the horizontal plane should be included as a new criterion to define plant strategies from arid ecosystems according to the gap–phase dynamics and mosaic maintenance.
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Aim We studied the legacy effects of shrubs during the downgrade phase of high–cover patches. Specifically, are woody species able to modify environmental attributes at patch level to such an extent as to alter the colonization once they have vacated their original position? Methods We monitored five environmental variables along an experimental four-stage downgrading gradient of high–cover patches during two years in cold- and warm-seasons, individual plant growth during three years, as well as the floristic composition of patches along the same gradient after 13 years. Results The downgrade of high–cover patches reduces the aboveground protection due to the increase in wind speed (400–500%) and evaporation rate (43–160%) associated with shrub death and senescence. In addition, high–cover patches increase the total soil nitrogen (400–600%) and reduce the infiltration rate (44–73%) on the top layer. Leaf length and flower culms of grass tussocks were lower in bare soil patches (7.5 cm and 3) compared to whatever degradation stage of high–cover patches (9–10 cm and 18–32). Floristic composition after 13 years reveals that grass species occupied the patch stages differentially, with a disjunctive pattern among species within the Poa and Pappostipa genus.
Conclusions Legacy effects prompted by shrubs through changes in soil properties at the horizontal plane can conditioned the patch dynamics. The ability of different plant species to cope with the spatial heterogeneity at the horizontal plane should be included as a new criterion to define plant strategies from arid ecosystems according to the gap–phase dynamics and mosaic maintenance.

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