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Title: Rapid recovery of ecosystem function following extreme drought in a South African savanna grassland
Abstract

Climatic extremes, such as severe drought, are expected to increase in frequency and magnitude with climate change. Thus, identifying mechanisms of resilience is critical to predicting the vulnerability of ecosystems. An exceptional drought (  more » « less

NSF-PAR ID:
10456583
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Ecology
Volume:
101
Issue:
4
ISSN:
0012-9658
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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    A recently introduced non‐native annual grass,Ventenata dubia, is challenging previous conceptions of community resistance in forest mosaic communities in the Inland Northwest. However, little is known of the drivers and potential ecological impacts of this rapidly expanding species. Here we (1) identify abiotic and biotic habitat characteristics associated with theV. dubiainvasion and examine how these differ betweenV. dubiaand other problematic non‐native annual grasses,Bromus tectorumandTaeniatherum caput‐medusae; and (2) determine how burning influences relationships betweenV. dubiaand plant community composition and structure to address potential impacts on Inland Northwest forest mosaic communities.

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    Methods

    We measured environmental and plant community characteristics in 110 recently burned and nearby unburned plots. Plots were stratified to capture a range ofV. dubiacover, elevations, biophysical classes, and fire severities. We investigated relationships betweenV. dubia, wildfire, environmental, and plant community characteristics using non‐metric multidimensional scaling and linear regressions.

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    Ventenata dubiawas most abundant in sparsely vegetated, basalt‐derived rocky scablands interspersed throughout the forested landscape. Plant communities most heavily invaded byV. dubiawere largely uninvaded by other non‐native annual grasses.Ventenata dubiawas abundant in both unburned and burned areas, but negative relationships betweenV. dubiacover and community diversity were stronger in burned plots, where keystone sagebrush species were largely absent after fire.

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