Plant diversity and ecosystem multifunctionality peak at intermediate levels of woody cover in global drylands

Santiago Soliveres, Fernando T. Maestre, David J. Eldridge, Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo, José Luis Quero, Matthew A Bowker, Antonio Gallardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aim The global spread of woody plants into grasslands is predicted to increase over the coming century. While there is general agreement regarding the anthropogenic causes of this phenomenon, its ecological consequences are less certain. We analysed how woody vegetation of differing cover affects plant diversity (richness and evenness) and the surrogates of multiple ecosystem processes (multifunctionality) in global drylands, and how these change with aridity. Location Two hundred and twenty-four dryland sites from all continents except Antarctica, widely differing in their environmental conditions (from arid to drysubhumid sites) and relative woody cover (from 0 to 100%). Methods Using a standardized field survey, we measured the cover, richness and evenness of perennial vegetation. At each site, we measured 14 soil variables related to fertility and the build-up of nutrient pools. These variables are critical for maintaining ecosystem functioning in drylands. Results Species richness and ecosystem multifunctionality were strongly related to woody vegetation, with both variables peaking at a relative woody cover (RWC) of 41-60%. This relationship shifted with aridity. We observed linear positive effects of RWC in dry-subhumid sites. These positive trends shifted to humpshaped RWC-diversity and multifunctionality relationships under semi-arid environments. Finally, hump-shaped (richness, evenness) or linear negative (multifunctionality) effects of RWC were found under the most arid conditions. Main conclusions Plant diversity and multifunctionality peaked at intermediate levels of woody cover, although this relationship became increasingly positive in wetter environments. This comprehensive study accounts for multiple ecosystem attributes across a range of levels of woody cover and environmental conditions. Our results help us to reconcile contrasting views of woody encroachment found in the current literature and can be used to improve predictions of the likely effects of encroachment on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1408-1416
Number of pages9
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Volume23
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

Fingerprint

dry environmental conditions
arid lands
ecosystems
ecosystem
aridity
vegetation
environmental conditions
ecological phenomena
environmental factors
wet environmental conditions
arid environment
ground cover plants
woody plant
woody plants
vegetation cover
ecosystem service
ecosystem services
Antarctica
field survey
soil fertility

Keywords

  • Aridity
  • Semi-arid
  • Shrub encroachment
  • Soil
  • Species evenness
  • Species richness
  • Thicketization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Soliveres, S., Maestre, F. T., Eldridge, D. J., Delgado-Baquerizo, M., Quero, J. L., Bowker, M. A., & Gallardo, A. (2014). Plant diversity and ecosystem multifunctionality peak at intermediate levels of woody cover in global drylands. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 23(12), 1408-1416. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12215

Plant diversity and ecosystem multifunctionality peak at intermediate levels of woody cover in global drylands. / Soliveres, Santiago; Maestre, Fernando T.; Eldridge, David J.; Delgado-Baquerizo, Manuel; Quero, José Luis; Bowker, Matthew A; Gallardo, Antonio.

In: Global Ecology and Biogeography, Vol. 23, No. 12, 01.12.2014, p. 1408-1416.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Soliveres, S, Maestre, FT, Eldridge, DJ, Delgado-Baquerizo, M, Quero, JL, Bowker, MA & Gallardo, A 2014, 'Plant diversity and ecosystem multifunctionality peak at intermediate levels of woody cover in global drylands', Global Ecology and Biogeography, vol. 23, no. 12, pp. 1408-1416. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12215
Soliveres, Santiago ; Maestre, Fernando T. ; Eldridge, David J. ; Delgado-Baquerizo, Manuel ; Quero, José Luis ; Bowker, Matthew A ; Gallardo, Antonio. / Plant diversity and ecosystem multifunctionality peak at intermediate levels of woody cover in global drylands. In: Global Ecology and Biogeography. 2014 ; Vol. 23, No. 12. pp. 1408-1416.
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abstract = "Aim The global spread of woody plants into grasslands is predicted to increase over the coming century. While there is general agreement regarding the anthropogenic causes of this phenomenon, its ecological consequences are less certain. We analysed how woody vegetation of differing cover affects plant diversity (richness and evenness) and the surrogates of multiple ecosystem processes (multifunctionality) in global drylands, and how these change with aridity. Location Two hundred and twenty-four dryland sites from all continents except Antarctica, widely differing in their environmental conditions (from arid to drysubhumid sites) and relative woody cover (from 0 to 100{\%}). Methods Using a standardized field survey, we measured the cover, richness and evenness of perennial vegetation. At each site, we measured 14 soil variables related to fertility and the build-up of nutrient pools. These variables are critical for maintaining ecosystem functioning in drylands. Results Species richness and ecosystem multifunctionality were strongly related to woody vegetation, with both variables peaking at a relative woody cover (RWC) of 41-60{\%}. This relationship shifted with aridity. We observed linear positive effects of RWC in dry-subhumid sites. These positive trends shifted to humpshaped RWC-diversity and multifunctionality relationships under semi-arid environments. Finally, hump-shaped (richness, evenness) or linear negative (multifunctionality) effects of RWC were found under the most arid conditions. Main conclusions Plant diversity and multifunctionality peaked at intermediate levels of woody cover, although this relationship became increasingly positive in wetter environments. This comprehensive study accounts for multiple ecosystem attributes across a range of levels of woody cover and environmental conditions. Our results help us to reconcile contrasting views of woody encroachment found in the current literature and can be used to improve predictions of the likely effects of encroachment on biodiversity and ecosystem services.",
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AU - Quero, José Luis

AU - Bowker, Matthew A

AU - Gallardo, Antonio

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N2 - Aim The global spread of woody plants into grasslands is predicted to increase over the coming century. While there is general agreement regarding the anthropogenic causes of this phenomenon, its ecological consequences are less certain. We analysed how woody vegetation of differing cover affects plant diversity (richness and evenness) and the surrogates of multiple ecosystem processes (multifunctionality) in global drylands, and how these change with aridity. Location Two hundred and twenty-four dryland sites from all continents except Antarctica, widely differing in their environmental conditions (from arid to drysubhumid sites) and relative woody cover (from 0 to 100%). Methods Using a standardized field survey, we measured the cover, richness and evenness of perennial vegetation. At each site, we measured 14 soil variables related to fertility and the build-up of nutrient pools. These variables are critical for maintaining ecosystem functioning in drylands. Results Species richness and ecosystem multifunctionality were strongly related to woody vegetation, with both variables peaking at a relative woody cover (RWC) of 41-60%. This relationship shifted with aridity. We observed linear positive effects of RWC in dry-subhumid sites. These positive trends shifted to humpshaped RWC-diversity and multifunctionality relationships under semi-arid environments. Finally, hump-shaped (richness, evenness) or linear negative (multifunctionality) effects of RWC were found under the most arid conditions. Main conclusions Plant diversity and multifunctionality peaked at intermediate levels of woody cover, although this relationship became increasingly positive in wetter environments. This comprehensive study accounts for multiple ecosystem attributes across a range of levels of woody cover and environmental conditions. Our results help us to reconcile contrasting views of woody encroachment found in the current literature and can be used to improve predictions of the likely effects of encroachment on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

AB - Aim The global spread of woody plants into grasslands is predicted to increase over the coming century. While there is general agreement regarding the anthropogenic causes of this phenomenon, its ecological consequences are less certain. We analysed how woody vegetation of differing cover affects plant diversity (richness and evenness) and the surrogates of multiple ecosystem processes (multifunctionality) in global drylands, and how these change with aridity. Location Two hundred and twenty-four dryland sites from all continents except Antarctica, widely differing in their environmental conditions (from arid to drysubhumid sites) and relative woody cover (from 0 to 100%). Methods Using a standardized field survey, we measured the cover, richness and evenness of perennial vegetation. At each site, we measured 14 soil variables related to fertility and the build-up of nutrient pools. These variables are critical for maintaining ecosystem functioning in drylands. Results Species richness and ecosystem multifunctionality were strongly related to woody vegetation, with both variables peaking at a relative woody cover (RWC) of 41-60%. This relationship shifted with aridity. We observed linear positive effects of RWC in dry-subhumid sites. These positive trends shifted to humpshaped RWC-diversity and multifunctionality relationships under semi-arid environments. Finally, hump-shaped (richness, evenness) or linear negative (multifunctionality) effects of RWC were found under the most arid conditions. Main conclusions Plant diversity and multifunctionality peaked at intermediate levels of woody cover, although this relationship became increasingly positive in wetter environments. This comprehensive study accounts for multiple ecosystem attributes across a range of levels of woody cover and environmental conditions. Our results help us to reconcile contrasting views of woody encroachment found in the current literature and can be used to improve predictions of the likely effects of encroachment on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

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KW - Semi-arid

KW - Shrub encroachment

KW - Soil

KW - Species evenness

KW - Species richness

KW - Thicketization

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