Extinction and colonisation of habitat specialists drive plant species replacement along a Mediterranean grassland-forest succession

Bagaria G., Rodà F., Pino J. (2019) Extinction and colonisation of habitat specialists drive plant species replacement along a Mediterranean grassland-forest succession. Journal of Vegetation Science. 30: 331-340.
Link
Doi: 10.1111/jvs.12722

Abstract:

Questions: Land-use change causes shifts in species richness, which can be delayed. However, beta-diversity patterns and especially the relative role of species replacement and nestedness in these situations with time-lagged extinctions and colonisations remain unknown. We aim to (a) quantify beta-diversity change, species replacement and nestedness for vascular plants along a grassland–forest succession with time-lagged biodiversity change for more than 50 years; (b) check its consistency between all species, grassland specialists and forest specialists, and (c) identify the role of forest encroachment relative to other drivers. Study site: Prades Mountains, Catalonia (NE Iberian Peninsula). Methods: We sampled 18 sites representing a gradient in past and current grassland area and connectivity, and in forest encroachment intensity, to obtain plant composition of all species, grassland specialists and forest specialists. We quantified overall beta-diversity and its components at each species classification group along the forest encroachment gradient and other drivers. Then, we used general linear models to study (a) the change rate of beta diversity along the forest encroachment gradient and (b) the relative importance of the drivers in explaining beta diversity. Results: Following the forest encroachment gradient, we found an overall noticeable species replacement, while nestedness was the main component for habitat specialists. Landscape differences contributed to explaining most compositional differences (both nestedness and replacement), while soil characteristics and geographic distance had a more restricted contribution. Conclusions: Species replacement due to environmental sorting occurred over the succession, triggered by selective extinctions of grassland specialists and selective colonisations of forest specialists. Nonetheless, historical landscape characteristics, current landscape characteristics and geographic distance modulate plant extinctions and colonisations, suggesting biological inertia, mass effects and habitat isolation, respectively. Partitioning beta-diversity into nestedness and replacement components and exploring the extinction and colonisation patterns of habitat specialist groups might provide relevant insight into the drivers and processes of community shift after land-use change. © 2019 International Association for Vegetation Science

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Sea spray influences water chemical composition of Mediterranean semi-natural springs

Fernández-Martínez M., Margalef O., Sayol F., Asensio D., Bagaria G., Corbera J., Sabater F., Domene X., Preece C. (2019) Sea spray influences water chemical composition of Mediterranean semi-natural springs. Catena. 173: 414-423.
Link
Doi: 10.1016/j.catena.2018.10.035

Abstract:

Sea spray aerosol (SSA) is responsible for the large-scale transfer of particles from the sea to the land, leading to significant deposition of a range of ions, predominantly Na+, K+, Mg2+ Ca2+, and Cl−. Up to now, there has been little research into the effects of SSA on spring water chemistry. Therefore, we sampled 303 semi-natural springs across Catalonia (NE Iberian Peninsula) and analysed the concentrations of 20 different ions and elements, and determined the impact of SSA (using distance to the coast as a proxy) as well as climate, lithology and human disturbances. We found that distance to the coast had a clear effect on the water chemical composition of springs, while accounting for potentially confounding factors such as anthropogenic water pollution (nitrate, NO3 −), differences in lithology and annual rainfall. Our results showed that springs located closer to the coast had higher Cl−, SO4 2−, Na+, Mg2+, K+ and Ca2+ concentrations than those of springs located further away. Precipitation was generally negatively correlated with the concentration of almost all elements analysed. The concentration of NO3 − increased with distance to the coast, concurrently with farming activities, located mainly inland in the study area. These results demonstrate that SSA has an important effect on the groundwater of coastal zones, up to a distance of around 70 km from the coastline. This analysis reveals the main natural and human processes that influence spring water chemistry in this Mediterranean region, information that could be helpful in similar regions for ecological studies, water quality policies, and for the improvement of predictions in the current context of global change. © 2018 Elsevier B.V.

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