Journal of Vegetation Science

Cover image for Vol. 25 Issue 5

Early View (Online Version of Record published before inclusion in an issue)

Chief Editors: Alessandro Chiarucci, Valerio Pillar, with Milan Chytrý, Meelis Pärtel (Chair)

Impact Factor: 3.372

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2013: 3/64 (Forestry); 27/196 (Plant Sciences); 35/140 (Ecology)

Online ISSN: 1654-1103

Associated Title(s): Applied Vegetation Science


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  1. Original Articles

    1. Positive fire feedbacks contribute to shifts from Nothofagus pumilio forests to fire-prone shrublands in Patagonia

      Juan Paritsis, Thomas T. Veblen and Andrés Holz

      Article first published online: 24 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12225

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      After fire-resistant Nothofagus pumilio forests burn in the northern Patagonian Andes, they are typically replaced by fire-prone shrublands dominated by resprouting shrubs. We show that fuel properties and microclimatic conditions at the community level are likely fire feedback mechanisms mediating switches from fire-resistant N. pumilio forests to fire-prone shrublands.

    2. Stress and land-use legacies alter the relationship between invasive- and native- plant richness

      David Bart, Tara Davenport and Quentin Carpenter

      Article first published online: 20 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12220

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      We examined relationships between native- and invasive-plant richness in Wisconsin fens to determine whether ploughing history and its abiotic legacies alter the relationship. Expected negative relationships were found in never-ploughed fens but not ploughed fens. This relationship becomes non-significant after accounting for saturation and nutrient stress. Our results suggest that saturation stress rather than native richness confers invasion resistance.

    3. Plant assemblages do not respond homogenously to local variation in environmental conditions: functional responses differ with species identity and abundance

      Bright B. Kumordzi, David A. Wardle and Grégoire T. Freschet

      Article first published online: 18 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12218

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      Community assembly rules predict consistent changes within plant species assemblages across environment gradients. In a boreal forest chronosequence in Sweden, we found species responses to environmental conditions were not homogenous within assemblages. We showed that some assumptions underpinning community assembly theory do not necessarily hold, and can cause inaccuracies in predicting plant functional responses to changes in environmental variables.

  2. Synthesis

    1. Tree line dynamics in the tropical African highlands – identifying drivers and dynamics

      Miro Jacob, Sofie Annys, Amaury Frankl, Maaike De Ridder, Hans Beeckman, Etefa Guyassa and Jan Nyssen

      Article first published online: 14 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12215

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      In this manuscript treeline dynamics in the tropical African highlands and their potential drivers are evaluated. The main take-hold message is that climate change has not lead to rising treelines in the African tropical highlands due to high human pressure and growing human population densities, which have a stronger effect than increasing temperatures.

  3. Original Articles

    1. Quantifying multimodal trait distributions improves trait-based predictions of species abundances and functional diversity

      Daniel C. Laughlin, Chaitanya Joshi, Sarah J. Richardson, Duane A. Peltzer, Norman W.H. Mason and David A. Wardle

      Article first published online: 8 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12219

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      Niche differentiation results in functionally diverse communities that are often composed of dominant species with contrasting trait values. Current trait-based models of community assembly emphasize trait convergence by environmental filtering over trait divergence. Here we demonstrate how to account for trait divergence in a trait-based model of environmental filtering to improve predictions of species abundances and functional diversity.

    2. The effect of typhoon-related defoliation on the ecology of gap dynamics in a subtropical rain forest of Taiwan

      Ai-Wen Yao, Jyh-Min Chiang, Ryan McEwan and Teng-Chiu Lin

      Article first published online: 8 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12217

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      In a subtropical broadleaved forest subject to frequent typhoon-force winds, we found that the understory light environment and both the composition and diversity of the vegetation were indistinguishable between canopy gaps and forest understory environments.  We propose that frequent typhoon-induced defoliation maintains high light availability in non-gap areas and may have a homogenizing effect on the forest understory.

    3. Recent fire and cattle herbivory enhance plant-level fuel flammability in shrublands

      Melisa Blackhall, Thomas T. Veblen and Estela Raffaele

      Article first published online: 31 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12216

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      Variability in flammability-related plant traits associated with time since fire and with cattle browsing varies with species identity. However, the majority of the woody species studied in northern Patagonia show higher fuel flammability at recently burned sites affected by cattle. Livestock, by increasing the flammability of post-fire vegetation, may be key agents in altering fire regimes in forest-shrubland mosaics.

    4. Using imaging spectroscopy to predict above-ground plant biomass in alpine grasslands grazed by large ungulates

      Anna K. Schweiger, Anita C. Risch, Alexander Damm, Mathias Kneubühler, Rudolf Haller, Michael E. Schaepman and Martin Schütz

      Article first published online: 31 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12214

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      Remoteness and heterogeneity of research areas make it difficult to assess vegetation characteristics with in situ sampling. We demonstrate that imaging spectroscopy can overcome this issue even in highly heterogeneous alpine grassland. Site-specific models including ground reference data outperformed regional models and the NDVI and enabled to map plant biomass in high spatial detail.

    5. From facilitative to competitive interaction between Larrea tridentata and Cylindropuntia leptocaulis in the southern Chihuahuan Desert

      A. Flores-Torres and C. Montaña

      Article first published online: 23 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12213

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      Larrea tridentata facilitates Cylindropuntia leptocaulis establishment. Irrigation experiments showed that adult shrubs were affected when associated with adult cacti. But solitary-dead shrubs and associated-live shrubs were more frequent than expected, and a spatial association was maintained between adult shrubs and cactus of all sizes. This means that the lowered fitness caused by adult interspecific-competition only exceptionally kills the shrub.

    6. Native and exotic plant species respond differently to wildfire and prescribed fire as revealed by meta-analysis

      Christina Alba, Hana Skálová, Kirsty F. McGregor, Carla D'Antonio and Petr Pyšek

      Article first published online: 14 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12212

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      Wildfire and prescribed fire modify vegetation dynamics worldwide. Due to invasion of many ecosystems by exotic species, it is of concern whether fire alters plant communities in favor of exotics. Using meta-analysis we show that native and exotic species assemblages differentially respond to both wildfire and prescribed fire and further assess how habitat type and time since fire mediate vegetation response.

    7. Observation bias and its causes in botanical surveys on high-alpine summits

      Sarah Burg, Christian Rixen, Veronika Stöckli and Sonja Wipf

      Article first published online: 7 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12211

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      Re-visitation studies on alpine summits based on historical records are great tools to monitor floristic change. We quantified observer bias using simultaneous independent surveys and found that physical strain to reach and time spent botanizing a summit influenced pseudo-turnover. However, turnover over the past century was three times higher; thus, the ecological signal by far exceeds the methodological bias.

    8. Changes in the species and functional trait composition of the seed bank during semi-natural grassland assembly: seed bank disassembly or ecological palimpsest?

      Kenny Helsen, Martin Hermy and Olivier Honnay

      Article first published online: 4 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12210

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      We show that during calcareous grassland assembly, a diverse seed bank is formed directly following forest clearance, followed by a gradual loss of species. This species loss is not governed by seed persistence traits but by functional changes in the above-ground community, resulting in one deterministic end state at the trait level, but not at the species level.

    9. Impact of fine-scale edaphic heterogeneity on tree species assembly in a central African rainforest

      Jason Vleminckx, Thomas Drouet, Christian Amani, Janvier Lisingo, Jean Lejoly and Olivier J. Hardy

      Article first published online: 4 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12209

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      We investigated the impact of a fine-scale soil texture discontinuity on tree species assembly in a Congolese rainforest. Using ordinations and torus-translation tests, we found that communities located on sandy soil were clearly differentiated from those on clayey soil in both the canopy and subcanopy. Our results provide further support for the importance of edaphic heterogeneity in structuring tree communities.

    10. Fire and simulated herbivory have antagonistic effects on resistance of savanna grasslands to alien shrub invasion

      Mariska te Beest, Nokukhanya J. Mpandza and Han Olff

      Article first published online: 2 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12208

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      Biotic resistance limits invasion success, yet to what extent resistance interacts with disturbance remains unclear. We transplanted seedlings of the alien shrub Chromolaena odorata in savanna grasslands and show that fire reduced seedling survival, whereas small-scale disturbances increased both seedling survival and biomass. We conclude that small-scale disturbances may aid the long-term persistence of woody species invading grasslands.

    11. Below-ground competition drives the self-thinning process of Stipa purpurea populations in northern Tibet

      Juntao Zhu, Lin Jiang, Yangjian Zhang, Yanbin Jiang, Jian Tao, Li Tian, Tao Zhang and Yi Xi

      Article first published online: 29 JUN 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12207

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      Above–ground, below–ground and individual mass–density relationships for Stipa purpurea populations were examined along a natural precipitation gradient in Northern Tibet. Our study revealed the mechanisms of population self–thinning for perennial herbs in the extreme environment of Northern Tibet, where below–ground process plays a critical role in regulating population self–thinning.

    12. Holocene fire regimes, vegetation and biogeochemistry of an ecotone site in the Great Lakes Region of North America

      Jesse L. Morris, Joshua R. Mueller, Andrea Nurse, Colin J. Long and Kendra K. McLauchlan

      Article first published online: 10 JUN 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12202

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      Using a lake record from the prairie-forest border, we demonstrate that recently developed quantitative and identification techniques for sedimentary charcoal reveal past landscape structure. A key result of our work indicates that when significant shifts in fire regimes occur, these transitions are coincident with changes in dominant fuel sources (herbaceous vs. woody).

    13. Grazing effects on biological soil crusts and their interaction with shrubs and grasses in an arid rangeland

      Solana Tabeni, Irene A. Garibotti, Clara Pissolito and Julieta N. Aranibar

      Article first published online: 10 JUN 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12204

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      Evidence suggests that the main biotic factors structuring biological soil crust communities in areas disturbed by grazing are the presence of shrubs and grasses, with opposite patterns across the gradient. There is a relationship of attraction between BSC and shrubs in the vicinity of the settlements, and of repulsion between BSC and both grasses and litter in less disturbed sites.

    14. Water and substrate control of cliff communities: patterns among species and phyla

      Ken Aho, T. Weaver and Sharon Eversman

      Article first published online: 1 JUN 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12205

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      This paper identified community shifts on water-substrate gradients on inland US cliffs, by considering phyla and species responses. Water was the most important controlling factor. Hygric sites were occupied by mosses and anthophytes. Lichens dominated xeric sites. While substrate did not affect hygric communities, substrate effects – probably due to different water supplying capacities – were evident on xeric sites.

    15. Distance to seed sources and land-use history affect forest development over a long-term heathland to forest succession

      S. Kepfer-Rojas, I. K. Schmidt, J. Ransijn, T. Riis-Nielsen and K. Verheyen

      Article first published online: 1 JUN 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12203

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      Over more than 100 yr of spontaneous heathland to forest succession, distance to seed sources and land-use history had different effects on the community structure of colonizers. Slower colonization rates at formerly cultivated areas were indirectly determined by higher nutrient availability. Dispersal from seed sources had more widespread effects on community structure, albeit more strongly at early stages.

    16. Decline of dry grassland specialists in Mediterranean high-mountain communities influenced by recent climate warming

      Borja Jiménez-Alfaro, Rosario G. Gavilán, Adrián Escudero, José María Iriondo and Federico Fernández-González

      Article first published online: 1 JUN 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12198

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      Climate-driven changes in Mediterranean mountains have been rarely assessed. Through a re-visitation study on high-mountain sites sampled in the XX century, we detected temporal patterns of decline in specialists and increase in generalists and total species richness. Altogether. these patterns differ from changes observed in other Mediterranean or Temperate regions.

    17. Do groundwater dynamics drive spatial patterns of tree density and diversity in Neotropical savannas?

      Randol Villalobos-Vega, Ana Salazar, Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm, Mundayatan Haridasan, Augusto C. Franco and Guillermo Goldstein

      Article first published online: 1 JUN 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12194

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      Variations in tree density and diversity along topographic gradients in Neotropical savannas are more related to spatial and temporal variations in water table depth than to soil and groundwater nutrient variations. Seasonal water table fluctuations in low elevation sites limit tree density as trees poorly tolerate extended water logging conditions during wet seasons and water deficits during dry seasons.

    18. Distribution and traits of climbing plants in subtropical and temperate South America

      Jaqueline Durigon, Silvia T.S. Miotto and Ernesto Gianoli

      Article first published online: 28 MAY 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12197

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      The flora of extratropical South America holds a distinctive taxonomic and ecological diversity of climbing plants. We showed that floristic patterns found in extratropical climbing flora contrast with those described for tropical regions and that vines constitute a very important climbing growth form at extratropical zones. We also provided evidences that climbing mechanisms may influence climber distribution.

    19. Forest disturbance and regeneration: a mosaic of discrete gap dynamics and open matrix regimes?

      George Alan Blackburn, Zulkiflee Abd Latif and Doreen Sandra Boyd

      Article first published online: 27 MAY 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12201

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      A decade of gap dynamics in a broadleaved deciduous forest landscape was characterised using LiDAR remote sensing. This revealed a ‘regime mosaic’ with zones of closed canopy forest, conforming to the traditional spatially-discrete model of disturbance and directional regeneration, juxtaposed with zones of lower tree cover representing an open matrix model with complex patterns of gap expansion, merger and contraction.

    20. Variable effects of termite mounds on African savanna grass communities across a rainfall gradient

      Andrew B. Davies, Mark P. Robertson, Shaun R. Levick, Gregory P. Asner, Berndt J. van Rensburg and Catherine L. Parr

      Article first published online: 26 MAY 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12200

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      By investigating grass communities on and around termite mounds in Kruger National Park, we show that termite activity affects grass assemblages differently across savanna sites, with stronger influences in wetter sites. Through detecting thresholds of change and scaling these up with terrestrial LiDAR data, we further determined that mounds distinctly altered grass communities over ca. 2% of the landscape.

    21. You have free access to this content
      Changes in plant species richness following reduced fire frequency and drought in one of the most species-rich savannas in North America

      Kyle A. Palmquist, Robert K. Peet and Alan S. Weakley

      Article first published online: 19 MAY 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12186

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      This work documents substantial declines in small-scale plant species richness over 25 yr in one of the most species-rich longleaf pine savannas in North America. We show that reduced fire frequency and long-term drought as measured by PZ index are primarily responsible. Our work suggests that nearly annual fire is necessary for the maintenance of species richness in mesic longleaf pine savannas.

    22. Patterns of phylogenetic diversity are linked to invasion impacts, not invasion resistance, in a native grassland

      Jonathan A. Bennett, Gisela C. Stotz and James F. Cahill Jr.

      Article first published online: 16 MAY 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12199

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      Focusing on Bromus inermis invasion into grassland, we explored the relationship between invasion and community phylogenetic structure. Our results show that biotic resistance is driven by variation in nutrient availability rather than relatedness or phylogenetic diversity. However, phylogenetic structure changed following successful invasion; declines in species from common lineages and increases in species from species-poor lineages increased phylogenetic dispersion.

    23. Fire frequency, agricultural history and the multivariate control of pine savanna understorey plant diversity

      Joseph W. Veldman, Lars A. Brudvig, Ellen I. Damschen, John L. Orrock, W. Brett Mattingly and Joan L. Walker

      Article first published online: 16 MAY 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12195

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      This work unites theory on the controls of local plant diversity, savanna vegetation dynamics, and agricultural legacies using a large-scale dataset and a multivariate framework capable of revealing complex relationships. Results reveal linkages between species richness and vegetation structure (i.e., tree and understory abundance), as well as several underappreciated ways that fire frequency and agricultural history influence understory plant communities.

    24. Glacier foreland succession and the fading effect of terrain age

      Knut Rydgren, Rune Halvorsen, Joachim P. Töpper and Joar M. Njøs

      Article first published online: 14 MAY 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12184

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      We show that terrain age is not the principal factor explaining present-day variation in species composition in Nigardsbreen glacier foreland W Norway. Instead, local environmental variables are the main determinants of species composition. This result emphasises the importance of collecting high-quality environmental data, and to use statistical methods that account for the non-linear successional rates in glacier forelands.

    25. Parasitism by Cuscuta chilensis and gender affect how the nurse cushion Laretia acaulis increases diversity in Andean alpine communities

      Wendy M. Ridenour, Ragan M. Callaway and Lohengrin A. Cavieres

      Article first published online: 8 MAY 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12185

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      Laretia acaulis is a dioecious nurse cushion species of the Andes of central Chile that is parasitized by Cuscuta chilensis. Cuscuta infection showed gender preferences, and this infection increased the facilitative effect of Laretia on its community of beneficiaries. This is the first report of how indirect effects of a parasitic plant increase the facilitative effects of a nurse species.

    26. Semi-supervised classification of vegetation: preserving the good old units and searching for new ones

      Lubomír Tichý, Milan Chytrý and Zoltán Botta-Dukát

      Article first published online: 5 MAY 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12193

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      Unsupervised clustering yields partitions that are partly inconsistent with previous classifications. Therefore, we introduce the concept of semi-supervised classification which reproduces the existing vegetation units and simultaneously identifies new units among unassigned sites. Example analyses of vegetation-plot data sets demonstrated that semi-supervised variants of clustering algorithms (k-means and PAM) are valuable tools for extending existing vegetation classifications.

    27. Spatial patterns with memory: tree regeneration after stand-replacing disturbance in Picea abies mountain forests

      Jan Wild, Martin Kopecký, Miroslav Svoboda, Jitka Zenáhlíková, Magda Edwards-Jonášová and Tomáš Herben

      Article first published online: 28 APR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12189

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      What are the spatial patterns of trees and recruits after the stand-replacing disturbance in mountain Norway spruce (Picea abies) forests? We found that spruce recruits are tightly clustered, both around disturbance-killed trees and snags that were already dead before the disturbance. Therefore, after self-thinning, the forest will have the same spatial pattern of trees as before the disturbance.

    28. Niche breadth of oligarchic species in Amazonian and Andean rain forests

      Gabriel Arellano, Victoria Cala and Manuel J. Macía

      Article first published online: 10 APR 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12180

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      We measured commonness and niche breadth of 1518 species in Amazonian and Andean rainforests in the Madidi Region (Bolivia). Although common species show a variety of distributional patterns, our results provide strong empirical support for the niche breadth hypothesis, which states that common species have broader niches than rare species.


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