J Plant Ecol ›› 2014, Vol. 7 ›› Issue (2): 188-201.DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtt068

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Does disturbance regime change community assembly of angiosperm plant communities in the boreal forest?

Jian Zhang1,*, Stephen J. Mayor2 and Fangliang He1   

  1. 1 Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H1, Canada; 2 Department of Biological Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E9, Canada
  • Received:2013-03-21 Accepted:2013-12-21 Published:2014-03-26
  • Contact: Zhang, Jian

Abstract: Aims To examine if and how species and phylogenetic diversity change in relation to disturbance, we conducted a review of ecological literature by testing the consistency of the relationship between phylogenetic diversity and disturbance and compared taxonomic groups, type of disturbance and ecosystem/habitat context. We provide a case study of the phylogenetic diversity–disturbance relationship in angiosperm plant communities of a boreal forest region, compared with types of natural and anthropogenic disturbances and plant growth forms.
Methods Using a large-scale sampling plot network along a complete (0–100%) anthropogenic disturbance gradient in the boreal biome, we compared the changes of angiosperm plant community structure and composition across plots. We estimated natural disturbance with historical records of major fires. We then calculated phylogenetic diversity indexes and determined species richness in order to compare linear and polynomial trends along disturbance gradients. We also compared the changes of community structure for different types of anthropogenic disturbances and examined how the relationships between species and phylogenetic diversity and disturbance regimes vary among three different life forms (i.e. forbs, graminoids and woody plants).
Important findings Phylogenetic diversity was inconsistently related to disturbance in previous studies, regardless of taxon, disturbance type or ecosystem context. In the understudied boreal ecosystem, angiosperm plant communities varied greatly in species richness and phylogenetic diversity along anthropogenic disturbance gradients and among different disturbance types. In general, a quadratic curve described the relationship between species richness and anthropogenic disturbance, with the highest richness at intermediate anthropogenic disturbance levels. However, phylogenetic diversity was not related to disturbance in any consistent manner and species richness was not correlated with phylogenetic diversity. Phylogenetic relatedness was also inconsistent across plant growth forms and different anthropogenic disturbance types. Unlike the inconsistent patterns observed for anthropogenic disturbance, community assembly among localities varying in time since natural disturbance exhibited a distinct signature of phylogenetic relatedness, although those trends varied among plant growth forms.

Key words: community assembly, community phylogenetics, community structure, biodiversity, human disturbance, phylogeny, taiga

摘要:
Aims To examine if and how species and phylogenetic diversity change in relation to disturbance, we conducted a review of ecological literature by testing the consistency of the relationship between phylogenetic diversity and disturbance and compared taxonomic groups, type of disturbance and ecosystem/habitat context. We provide a case study of the phylogenetic diversity–disturbance relationship in angiosperm plant communities of a boreal forest region, compared with types of natural and anthropogenic disturbances and plant growth forms.
Methods Using a large-scale sampling plot network along a complete (0–100%) anthropogenic disturbance gradient in the boreal biome, we compared the changes of angiosperm plant community structure and composition across plots. We estimated natural disturbance with historical records of major fires. We then calculated phylogenetic diversity indexes and determined species richness in order to compare linear and polynomial trends along disturbance gradients. We also compared the changes of community structure for different types of anthropogenic disturbances and examined how the relationships between species and phylogenetic diversity and disturbance regimes vary among three different life forms (i.e. forbs, graminoids and woody plants).
Important findings Phylogenetic diversity was inconsistently related to disturbance in previous studies, regardless of taxon, disturbance type or ecosystem context. In the understudied boreal ecosystem, angiosperm plant communities varied greatly in species richness and phylogenetic diversity along anthropogenic disturbance gradients and among different disturbance types. In general, a quadratic curve described the relationship between species richness and anthropogenic disturbance, with the highest richness at intermediate anthropogenic disturbance levels. However, phylogenetic diversity was not related to disturbance in any consistent manner and species richness was not correlated with phylogenetic diversity. Phylogenetic relatedness was also inconsistent across plant growth forms and different anthropogenic disturbance types. Unlike the inconsistent patterns observed for anthropogenic disturbance, community assembly among localities varying in time since natural disturbance exhibited a distinct signature of phylogenetic relatedness, although those trends varied among plant growth forms.