Grassland diversity and productivity: The interplay of resource availability and propagule pools

  • Foster B
  • Dickson T
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Processes operating at multiple spatial scales govern the structure and functioning of ecological communities. We conducted a resource manipulation and propagule addition experiment in grassland to evaluate the interaction of local resource availability and propagule pools in governing local-scale plant colonization, biodiversity, and above-ground productivity. The availabilities of establishment microsites and water were manipulated in field plots for two years through the application of experimental soil disturbances and irrigation, respectively. Resource manipulations led to increased invasibility of the community, as predicted by the theory of fluctuating resources. Rates of colonization, enhanced by the sowing of 32 grassland species, increased plant diversity and above-ground productivity, but to a greater extent under conditions of resource enrichment. Although resource enrichment generally increased diversity and productivity, these responses were contingent upon species availability and tended to be more pronounced in the presence of an expanded propagule pool. These findings suggest that biodiversity at the level of the available propagule pool and fluctuations in resources interact to regulate local resident diversity and productivity by determining opportunities for species sorting, by mediating community assembly, and by governing the potential for functional compensation in the community.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Colonization
  • Diversity
  • Grassland
  • Invasibility
  • Productivity
  • Propagule pools
  • Resource availability

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  • Bryan L. Foster

  • Timothy L. Dickson

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