Effect of the method of assessing and weighting abundance on the interpretation of the relationship between plant clonal traits and meadow management.
Jitka Klimešová 1 , Štěpán Janeček 1 , Jan Horník 3 2 & Jiří Doležal 1
- Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Department of Functional Ecology, Dukelská 135, CZ-379 82 Třeboň, Czech Republic
- Centaurea, Society for Landscape Monitoring and Management, Stolany 53, CZ-538 03 Heřmanův Městec, Czech Republic
- University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice, Department of Botany, Na Zlaté stoce 1, CZ-370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic
The role of clonal traits in a plant’s response to changes in management of semi-natural grasslands is poorly known and the few studies examining their importance have yielded contradictory results. For a better understanding of the role of plant functional traits in determining competitive ability and clonal growth in response to early changes in management, we mowed and applied fertilizer to 22 wet meadows in the Železné hory Mts, Czech Republic. We used two methods of assessing abundance (plant cover and species frequency) to determine whether changes in frequency induced by changes in management are better predicted by clonal traits while changes in cover are mainly determined by competitive traits such as plant height. We evaluated (i) the response of individual species to changes in management and (ii) the response of the whole community, with and without taking abundance of individual plants into account, in order to separate the effect of local extinction and immigration from changes in abundance. The plant functional traits tested were generally found to be important soon after the changes in the management of the semi-natural grasslands occurred: competitively superior resident species (possessing tall erosulate, monocyclic shoots) that are able to spread far and multiply clonally (having a high clonal index) were favoured by applying fertilizer and/or suppressed by mowing. Some other traits supposed to be important in the response to changes in management did not change (persistence of connection between ramets). Results for the two methods of assessing abundance differed; however, neither was better at detecting the response of particular types of traits (i.e. relevant to clonal growth and competitive ability). The initial response of the whole community, with and without taking abundance of individual plants into account, was consistent indicating that species that went extinct possessed the same traits as those that decreased in abundance. The clonal index proved to be a useful characteristic of meadow plants. Our results further imply that (i) the method used to assess abundance significantly affects the output of analyses of the response of functional traits, and (ii) a comparison of analyses based on weighting abundance and unweighted means resulted in a deeper insight into the changes in the spectra of functional traits that occurred after changes in meadow management.
abandonment, clonal traits, clonal index, fertilization, mowing, plant height, seminatural grasslands, SLA
How to cite
Klimešová J., Janeček Š., Horník J. & Doležal J. (2011) Effect of the method of assessing and weighting abundance on the interpretation of the relationship between plant clonal traits and meadow management. – Preslia 83: 437