Journal of Vegetation Science

Cover image for Vol. 27 Issue 1

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

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

Impact Factor: 3.709

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2014: 2/65 (Forestry); 25/204 (Plant Sciences); 31/145 (Ecology)

Online ISSN: 1654-1103

Associated Title(s): Applied Vegetation Science


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  1. Research Articles

    1. Interacting effects of grazing and habitat conditions on seedling recruitment and establishment

      Anna Kladivová and Zuzana Münzbergová

      Article first published online: 11 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12395

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      We followed seedlings of dry grassland, asking what is the effect of grazing on seedling recruitment and establishment and to what extent is the effect grazing dependent on local habitat conditions. In our study, grazing had a positive effect on seedling recruitment. We also found that varying habitat conditions on small spatial scales can modify the impact of grazing management.

    2. The effect of current and historical landscape structure and species life-history traits on species distribution in dry grassland-like forest openings

      Iveta Husáková and Zuzana Münzbergová

      Article first published online: 11 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12390

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      In a fragmented landscape, the distribution of plant species is determined not only by local habitat conditions but also by landscape structure. The results indicate that a knowledge of the past landscape structure is important for understanding the current species distribution and that species life-history traits can be used as useful predictors of species responses to the past landscape structure.

    3. Rarefaction and elevational richness pattern: a case study in a high tropical island (New Caledonia, SW Pacific)

      Thomas Ibanez, John-Arvid Grytnes and Philippe Birnbaum

      Article first published online: 11 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12396

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      In species rich forests, the use of small plots induces a high correlation between tree species richness and the number of trees inventoried per plot. This may mediate, weaken or even mask the patterns between species richness and environmental gradients. Here, we analysed how using different ways to standardize sampling effort changes the pattern between tree species richness and elevation.

    4. Eucalyptus forest shows low structural resistance and resilience to climate change-type drought

      George Matusick, Katinka X. Ruthrof, Joseph B. Fontaine and Giles E. St. J. Hardy

      Article first published online: 9 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12378

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      Historically resilient forests in Mediterranean regions are susceptible to the combined effects of drought and higher temperatures. Four years following dieback of the Northern Jarrah Forest from a drought and heat event, forest structure has shifted to an alternate state in severe patches. Repeated events have the potential to shift tall, open forests to short, closed woodlands in the future.

    5. Soil pH limits of forest vascular plants determine range size and threat level

      Jana Michaelis, Angela Pannek and Martin Diekmann

      Article first published online: 7 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12380

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      Because environmental change may force species to live closer to their ecological limits than to their optima, we examined the importance of soil pH response limits for determining the regional range sizes and threat levels of German forest plants. The results suggest that limits are better predictors of current and future species distributions than optima.

    6. A quest for species-level indicator values for disturbance

      Tomáš Herben, Milan Chytrý and Jitka Klimešová

      Article first published online: 7 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12384

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      We developed indicator values for disturbance frequency and severity for 1248 species of Central European flora. We propose such indicator values can provide quantitative information on species response to disturbance and be used to address a number of questions in plant ecology and evolution. In particular, they enable us testing correlations of plant traits with disturbance regimes.

    7. Understanding clonal plant competition for space over time: a fine-scale spatial approach based on experimental communities

      Hugo Saiz, Anne-Kristel Bittebiere, Marie-Lise Benot, Vincent Jung and Cendrine Mony

      Article first published online: 7 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12392

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      With this study we analyzed the effect of initial composition of species differing in clonal growth (guerilla – intermediate - phalanx) on the spatial dynamics of an experimental community over 5 yr. We found that guerilla and phalanx species maintained the same dynamic over time, while intermediate species modified their dynamic depending on their neighbors, suggesting more adaptability. The photo is the experimental garden from the univeristy of Rennes.

    8. Grass abundance shapes trait distributions of forbs in an experimental grassland

      Rachel M. Mitchell and Jonathan D. Bakker

      Article first published online: 7 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12389

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      We examine how the biotic community impacts intraspecific trait expression and functional diversity in a grassland community. Forb traits were shaped by the abundance of a functionally distinct grass, but species responded idiosyncratically. Functional richness, evenness, and diversity of forbs were also reduced where grass was abundant. We find that the biotic community alters trait expression and functional diversity.

    9. Community variation in plant traits along copper and cobalt gradients

      Guillaume Delhaye, Cyrille Violle, Maxime Séleck, Edouard Ilunga wa Ilunga, Isaline Daubie, Grégory Mahy and Pierre Meerts

      Article first published online: 7 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12394

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      This study shows how plant community's functional traits change from competitive to metal tolerance related strategy along copper and cobalt gradients. Turnover of species is much more important than the intraspecific component of the community's variation in driving these changes. In three out of five studied traits, species with a broader niche did not exhibit larger trait plasticity.

    10. The role of distance and habitat specificity in bryophyte and perennial seed plant metacommunities in arid scrubland fragments

      Íñigo Granzow-de la Cerda, Gabriel Arellano, Montserrat Brugués and Albert Solà-López

      Article first published online: 1 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12364

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      Aside from specificity to substrate chemistry, differences in floristic composition between fragments are associated to characteristics of the surrounding matrix. Bryophytes of the biological soil crust (BSC) show sensitivity to gypsum and halite content comparable to seed plants. Topographic complexity of the matrix generates additional ‘friction’ to dispersal, increasing compositional dissimilarities between seed-plant and, especially, BSC bryophyte communities.

    11. Species-specific facilitation, ontogenetic shifts and consequences for plant community succession

      Gustavo Brant Paterno, José Alves Siqueira Filho and Gislene Ganade

      Article first published online: 29 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12382

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      We conducted a factorial multi-species experiment and showed that nurse and beneficiary species identity simultaneously influence the balance between facilitation and competition. Our results suggests that ontogenetic shifts may be a widespread phenomenon in semiarid ecosystems. We argue through a theoretical framework that species-specific facilitation is an overlooked mechanism promoting beta diversity during community succession.

    12. Biotic homogenization of urban floras by alien species: the role of species turnover and richness differences

      Zdeňka Lososová, Milan Chytrý, Jiří Danihelka, Lubomír Tichý and Carlo Ricotta

      Article first published online: 29 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12381

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      We ask whether changes in beta diversity of plant communities due to introduction of alien species result from changes in species turnover or from differences in species richness. Using dataset of European urban habitats we show that changes in beta diversity induced by the establishment of alien species reflect mainly species turnover, whereas the richness difference component has small effects.

    13. Moose browsing, understorey structure and plant species composition across spruce budworm-induced forest edges

      Caroline M.A. Franklin and Karen A. Harper

      Article first published online: 27 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12385

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      We examined patterns of moose browsing severity, understorey structure, and species composition across forest edges created by an insect outbreak. Forest regeneration has been hindered by severe damage from moose browsing, which also affected understorey vegetation. Severe moose browsing can ultimately maintain the boundary between disturbed areas and adjacent intact forests and therefore prolong the existence of forest edges.

    14. Forest age and isolation affect the rate of recovery of plant species diversity and community composition in secondary rain forests in tropical Australia

      Miriam Goosem, Claudia Paz, Rod Fensham, Noel Preece, Stephen Goosem and Susan G. W. Laurance

      Article first published online: 25 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12376

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      Recovery of biodiversity in tropical secondary rainforests is extremely important to conservation. We showed that plant diversity increased with age in secondary forests growing on pastures abandoned up to 70 yr ago. However, even after 60 yr of canopy cover, plant diversity and composition differed from mature rainforests, being influenced by isolation from mature forest, soil fertility and moisture.

    15. Vegetation patterns along micro-relief and vegetation type transects in polygonal landscapes of the Siberian Arctic

      Romy Zibulski, Ulrike Herzschuh and Luidmila A. Pestryakova

      Article first published online: 16 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12356

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      Our study of higher plant and bryophyte communities of low-centred polygons located across the Siberian tree line indicate that richness and composition reflect small-scale hydrological and micro-relief gradients within single polygons rather than the broad-scale vegetation change.

    16. Comparing resource-based and co-occurrence-based methods for estimating species niche breadth

      Angela Pannek, Michael Manthey and Martin Diekmann

      Article first published online: 14 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12374

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      As generalists and specialists response differently to climate change, we asked whether distinct methods of estimating species niches result in similar predictions of specialisation. Results showed the methods to be complementary: While the co-occurrence approach integrates drivers of species composition in its niche measure, the direct approach provides information about measured environmental characteristics, being of particular importance in applied ecology.

    17. A framework for partitioning plant rooting profiles from neighbours using multiple data types

      Heather Kropp, Kiona Ogle and Martin F. Wojciechowski

      Article first published online: 14 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12377

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      The quantification of multiple species' root distributions can be labor-intensive and destructive. We describe a modeling framework that combines multiple minimally-destructive methods to partition species' roots. We examine the effect of plant neighbors on the root profile of a desert shrub, and demonstrate that the combined model has reduced uncertainty compared to individual analyses.

    18. Annual plant diversity decreases across scales following widespread ecosystem engineer shrub mortality

      Oren Hoffman, Natalie de Falco, Hezi Yizhaq and Bertrand Boeken

      Article first published online: 12 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12372

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      Ecosystem engineering by desert shrubs increases biodiversity by facilitation of herbaceous plants. We explored the effects of drought-induced widespread shrub mortality on community structure and diversity of annual plants in the semi-arid Northern Negev, Israel. Using diversity partitioning we show that shrub mortality reduces species diversity at the single patch scale, and reduces community heterogeneity and diversity at larger scales.

    19. Climate and the distribution of grasses in West Africa

      Gaëlle Bocksberger, Jan Schnitzler, Cyrille Chatelain, Philippe Daget, Thomas Janssen, Marco Schmidt, Adjima Thiombiano and Georg Zizka

      Article first published online: 11 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12360

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      We integrated species richness, abundance and functional traits to explain patterns of grass diversity in West Africa. Our results show that different grass clades have evolved physiological and morphological adaptations to dominate the grass flora along the rainfall gradient. Our study provides insight into the environmental correlates of grass species richness and contributes to the needed research on tropical grasslands.

    20. Spatial patterns of tree species distribution in New Guinea primary and secondary lowland rain forest

      Pavel Fibich, Jan Lepš, Vojtěch Novotný, Petr Klimeš, Jakub Těšitel, Kenneth Molem, Kipiro Damas and George D. Weiblen

      Article first published online: 11 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12363

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      A comparison of multispecies spatial patterns of trees in primary and secondary tropical forests enabled us to infer some mechanisms governing their assembly. Clumped patterns, conspecific aggregations and low local diversity in the secondary forest demonstrate the importance of dispersal processes early in succession. High local diversity in the primary forest reflects the effects of intraspecific competition and Janzen-Connell mechanisms.

    21. Physiological responses to extreme hydrological events in the Pantanal wetland: heterogeneity of a plant community containing super-dominant species

      Higo J. Dalmagro, Michael J. Lathuillière, George L. Vourlitis, Roberto C. Campos, Osvaldo Borges Pinto Jr, Mark S. Johnson, Carmen E.R. Ortíz, Francisco de A. Lobo and Eduardo G. Couto

      Article first published online: 11 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12379

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      Hydrological stress in the Brazilian Pantanal wetland occurs twice a year when soils are either extremely dry or completely saturated. We studied a plant community's response to these stresses by looking at measurements of leaf gas exchange and water potential. Results show a heterogeneous response of the plant community despite the presence of super-dominant species at the site.

    22. Soil aeration, water deficit, nitrogen availability, acidity and temperature all contribute to shaping tree species distribution in temperate forests

      Christian Piedallu, Jean-Claude Gégout, François Lebourgeois and Ingrid Seynave

      Article first published online: 5 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12370

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      This study compare a large set of physiologically-relevant ecological predictors to identify the main drivers and quantify the suitable conditions for 32 tree species in temperate forests. For the first time, it shows soil water deficit, soil pH, C/N and temporary and permanent waterlogging all contribute to shape the studied species distribution, in addition to the classically used temperatures.

    23. You have full text access to this OnlineOpen article
      Soil stabilization linked to plant diversity and environmental context in coastal wetlands

      Hilary Ford, Angus Garbutt, Cai Ladd, Jonathan Malarkey and Martin W. Skov

      Article first published online: 4 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12367

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      The complex relationship between biological and environmental drivers that determine ecosystem function is difficult to unravel. Here we present an erosion model that includes plant diversity and explains 80% of the variation in soil erosion rate in saltmarsh grasslands. When plant species richness was considered in isolation it explained 44% of erosion rate variation in the sandy region.

    24. Pre-industrial landscape composition patterns and post-industrial changes at the temperate–boreal forest interface in western Quebec, Canada

      Victor Danneyrolles, Dominique Arseneault and Yves Bergeron

      Article first published online: 4 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12373

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      This paper demonstrates that long term vegetation changes should be perceived as interactions between pre-industrial landscape patterns and disturbance history. It points out land uses as the main driver of post-industrial vegetation changes in the study area and also presents a novel approach to analyze historical survey data and vegetation changes at the landscape scale.

    25. A common lack of demographic equilibrium among tree species in Białowieża National Park (NE Poland): evidence from long-term plots

      Bogdan Brzeziecki, Arne Pommerening, Stanisław Miścicki, Stanisław Drozdowski and Henryk Żybura

      Article first published online: 4 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12369

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      We developed theoretical, equilibrium tree-size distributions to assess a degree of demographic stability of tree species, occurring in strictly protected forest stands in Białowieża National Park (NE Poland). We examine the possible reasons for the large and steadily growing departures between the steady-state and observed distributions. We also discuss the most important community-level implications of the long-lasting tree demographic patterns.

  2. Forum

    1. Seed germination traits can contribute better to plant community ecology

      Borja Jiménez-Alfaro, Fernando A.O. Silveira, Alessandra Fidelis, Peter Poschlod and Lucy E. Commander

      Article first published online: 4 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12375

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      Seed germination traits are essential for understanding the regeneration niche of plant communities. However, we demonstrate how germination data has been neglected by vegetation scientists at the expense of other overused traits. By offering a general framework for the classification of seed traits, we discuss the functional significance of seed germination for addressing major questions on community assembly, climate change and restoration ecology.

  3. Research Articles

    1. Timing of extreme drought modifies reproductive output in semi-natural grassland

      Michaela Zeiter, Sara Schärrer, Roman Zweifel, David M. Newbery and Andreas Stampfli

      Article first published online: 1 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12362

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      We added rainwater to simulate normal conditions and compare them with experimentally affected extreme droughts in late-summer and spring. Droughts strongly and independently reduced the subsequent seed rain and number of reproductive-shoot. Drought timing modified the species composition of the reproductive output. The negative effects of summer drought on reproductive shoot density decreased with species’ rooting depth.

    2. Neighbour effects on shrub seedling establishment override climate change impacts in a Mediterranean community

      Anne Rysavy, Merav Seifan, Marcelo Sternberg and Katja Tielbörger

      Article first published online: 26 NOV 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12359

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      A field and garden experimental set-up enabled us to assess the potential impact of neighboring plants on shrub seedling establishment under different climate change scenarios. Our results emphasize the importance of incorporating biotic interactions into climate-change models as the ability of the shrubs to cope with the drier conditions was strongly affected by the presence of neighbors and their origin.

    3. Spatial distribution and association patterns in a tropical evergreen broad-leaved forest of north-central Vietnam

      Hong Hai Nguyen, Jaime Uria-Diez and Kerstin Wiegand

      Article first published online: 21 NOV 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12361

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      This study contributes to a better understanding of the spatial regulation of species diversity in forests. It provides evidence that dispersal limitation and species herd protection may regulate the spatial patterns of tree species in a tropical broad-leaved forest in north-central Vietnam. The spatial segregation caused by habitat heterogeneity occurs at a scale around 15 m in this forest.

    4. Dissecting the hydrological niche: soil moisture, space and lifespan

      Gonzalo García-Baquero, Jonathan Silvertown, David J. Gowing and Cipriano J. Valle

      Article first published online: 19 NOV 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12353

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      How do plant species co-exist? A dehesa meadow and an alpine pasture in Spain were used to investigate species segregation into hydrological niches. Our results support the ecological hypothesis that spatial niche segregation on soil-moisture gradients is an important mechanism of coexistence for perennials in both test communities, though not for the species-rich sub-community of annuals in the dehesa meadow.

    5. Coupling experimental data with individual-based modelling reveals differential effects of root herbivory on grassland plant co-existence along a resource gradient

      Hans Pfestorf, Katrin Körner, Ilja Sonnemann, Susanne Wurst and Florian Jeltsch

      Article first published online: 19 NOV 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12357

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      Our study combines empirical work and simulation experiments to predict community level consequences of root herbivore feeding observed for individual plants. We establish a competitive hierarchy of the investigated species and show that mainly negative effects of root herbivory on coexistence result from reduced ecological species differences and a stronger interaction of root herbivory with inter- than with intra-specific competition.

    6. Functional convergence and phylogenetic divergence during secondary succession of subtropical wet forests in Puerto Rico

      Robert Muscarella, María Uriarte, T. Mitchell Aide, David L. Erickson, Jimena Forero-Montaña, W. John Kress, Nathan G. Swenson and Jess K. Zimmerman

      Article first published online: 10 NOV 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12354

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      Functional and phylogenetic information can shed light on community assembly processes. We ask whether shifts in the composition of tropical forests suggest changes in dominant assembly processes during succession. We found evidence for functional convergence of distantly related lineages on competitive dominance traits under low resource conditions. Integrating traits with phylogeny can help reveal drivers of succession in diverse systems.

    7. Testing inter-regional variation in pH niches of fen mosses

      Zuzana Plesková, Martin Jiroušek, Tomáš Peterka, Tomáš Hájek, Daniel Dítě, Petra Hájková, Jana Navrátilová, Anna Šímová, Vít Syrovátka and Michal Hájek

      Article first published online: 28 OCT 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12348

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      This study deals with responses of fen moss species to water pH in regions differing in nutrient availability and abundance of calcareous bedrock - Bohemian Massif and Western Carpathians. We demonstrate a rather high geographical stability of pH optima and amplitudes. Such stability is probably caused by a high dispersal ability of bryophyte spores preventing the evolution of geographically constrained ecotypes.

    8. Spatial variation in potential photosynthesis in Northern European bogs

      Anna M. Laine, David Wilson, Jukka Alm, Julia Schneider and Eeva-Stiina Tuittila

      Article first published online: 28 OCT 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12355

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      We described the variation in ombrotrophic bog vegetation and light response of photosynthesis at the level of microforms by using multivariate analyses. Our aim was to find out if gas fluxes measured at one mire could be generalized over other similar mires, and at which level the upscaling should be done. We found out that bogs are similar enough for such upscaling and microforms are good units for upscaling as long as their proportion in an area and the leaf area characteristic in the year(s) in question are known. Assessments of ecosystem-level photosynthesis are important with regard to current and future changes in climate, as the most dramatic changes in peatlands involve water-level drawdown, which in turn is likely to lead to changes in the relative proportions of microforms within peatlands.

    9. Climatic and geographic correlates of global forest tree species–abundance distributions and community evenness

      Werner Ulrich, Buntarou Kusumoto, Takayuki Shiono and Yasuhiro Kubota

      Article first published online: 26 OCT 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12346

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      Species - abundance distributions (SAD) summarise various patterns of community assembly in condensed form. Using data from worldwide surveys we observed an increased evenness in community abundances and higher proportions of log-series SADs at lower latitudes pointing to dispersal as the main factor shaping SADs. Consequently, tropical communities tend to be more input driven in comparison to temperate communities.

    10. Short-term manipulation of precipitation in Mongolian steppe shows vegetation influenced more by timing than amount of rainfall

      Laura A. Spence, Pierre Liancourt, Bazartseren Boldgiv, Peter S. Petraitis and Brenda B. Casper

      Article first published online: 26 OCT 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12349

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      Through a four-year experiment in Mongolian montane steppe, we show that precipitation increases cause immediate changes in plant species composition. However, the steppe vegetation proved more responsive to a regular incremental increase in precipitation than to less frequent, larger storms.  The effect of such larger rainstorms could be highly timing-dependent in this location that has a short temperature-limited growing season.

    11. Responsiveness of performance and morphological traits to experimental submergence predicts field distribution pattern of wetland plants

      Fang-Li Luo, Lin Huang, Ting Lei, Wei Xue, Hong-Li Li, Fei-Hai Yu and Johannes H. C. Cornelissen

      Article first published online: 22 OCT 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12352

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      Trait responses of wetland plants to hydrological changes may reflect their habitat preference and thus field distribution along the hydrological gradient. We found that response ratios of performance and morphological traits between partially submerged and un-submerged treatments under experimental conditions could well predict field distribution pattern of wetland plant species.

    12. Mixed-severity natural disturbance regime dominates in an old-growth Norway spruce forest of northwest Russia

      Tatiana Khakimulina, Shawn Fraver and Igor Drobyshev

      Article first published online: 16 OCT 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12351

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      We reconstructed the frequency and spatial pattern of forest canopy gaps over last 230 yr to assess how disturbance has influenced tree regeneration in natural spruce forests of the European taiga. These forests exhibited long-term forest continuity under a mixed-severity disturbance regime. Despite periodic pulses in disturbance, these forests did not exhibit pronounced successional shifts in tree species composition.

    13. Field test of canopy cover estimation by hemispherical photographs taken with a smartphone

      Lubomír Tichý

      Article first published online: 14 OCT 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12350

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      Canopy Cover index calculated from hemispherical photographs represents a precise proxy for the visual estimation of canopy cover in forests. The index reliability is tested on a set of vegetation data collected in deciduous, mixed and coniferous forests. The index sensitivity to different devices used to capture the hemispherical images is evaluated. A new Android software application is introduced.


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