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Keywords:

  • Agricultural landscape;
  • Biological trait;
  • Disturbance;
  • Logistic regression;
  • Resource
  • Ellenberg et al. (1991) for plants;
  • Anon. (1988) for soil types

Abstract. In this study, plant functional types are understood as groups of plants with similar biological traits displaying significant optima or maxima on a gradient plane of resource supply and disturbance intensity. The biological traits refer to expansion, vegetative regeneration, generative reproduction, dispersal and seed bank longevity.

129 vegetation samples were taken in an agricultural landscape in southwestern Germany, covering a wide range of terrestrial vegetation types – but with the exception of forests and wetlands. For each site, also soil data were recorded. Mean daily soil moisture was estimated with a simple model. Soil moisture, balanced nitrogen supply and available phosphorus were combined into a factor ‘resource supply’. In addition, disturbance intensity was estimated for each site. This factor was based on (1) frequency of disturbance, (2) disturbance depth below or above the soil surface, and (3) proportion of the area affected by a discrete disturbance event. 30 plant groups with similar biological characteristics resulted from a cluster analysis, based on a compilation of 19 biological traits for a regional species pool. Logistic regression on a gradient plane of disturbance intensity and resource supply yielded response curves for 28 groups. The dependent variable was defined as the probability of encountering all members of a group in a sample. 17 groups display a significant response curve on the gradient plane. Plants with a potential for long- range dispersal are concentrated on sites with low or high disturbance intensities (e.g. fallow land, fields, lawns). On sites with medium disturbance intensity (e.g. meadows) and low to medium resource supply, small-range dispersal predominates. There are no distinct trends concerning seed bank longevity. The potential for vertical and lateral expansion increases with decreasing disturbance intensity. Only at medium disturbance intensities does vertical expansion correlate positively with resource supply. Rapid detachment of daughter individuals occurs more often on productive sites than on less productive sites. Diversity of groups with similar biological traits is highest on sites with medium disturbance intensities.