Variation in species composition and species richness within Phragmites australis dominated riparian zones

J.P.M. Lenssen, F.B.J. Menting, W.H. Van der Putten, C.W.P.M. Blom

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    In riparian wetlands total standing crop often fails to account for a significant part of the observed variation in species richness and species composition within communities. In this study, we used abundance of the dominant species instead of total standing crop as the biotic predictor variable and investigated its relationships with species composition and species richness in communities dominated by Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steudel. This was done by measuring soil organic matter content, litter cover and elevation, Phragmites abundance (standing crop and stem density) and species composition in 78 releves. In addition, we tried to identify the environmental boundaries of Phragmites communities by sampling releves in neighbouring communities. Two gradients were related to a decline in Phragmites abundance: one gradient, perpendicular to the shoreline, was mainly related to increased elevation and the second gradient ran parallel to the shoreline and was related to increased amounts of soil organic matter. Within the releves dominated by Phragmites, stem density of Phragmites and litter cover were the only factors significantly related to species composition in the RDA solution. Litter cover and standing crop of the dominant accounted for 64% of the variation in species richness within the Phragmites-dominated community. These results show that dead and living biomass of the dominant species may account for a substantial part of the variation in species composition and species richness within a single community. [KEYWORDS: dominant plant species; litter; ordination; riparian wetlands; zonation Environmental-factors; fen vegetation; shoot density; plant; litter; model; reed; management; abundance; disturbance]
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)137-146
    JournalPlant Ecology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


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