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Hints for alternative stable states from long-term vegetation dynamics in an unmanaged heathland

Johannes Ransijn, Sebastian Kepfer-Rojas, Kris Verheyen UGent, Torben Riis-Nielsen and Inger Kappel Schmidt (2015) JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE. 26(2). p.254-266
abstract
Questions: How does heathland vegetation composition change during ca. 100yr of succession in the absence of management? Is succession divergent or mono-directional? Do soil conditions and land-use history explain the variation in vegetation dynamics? Is there evidence for alternative stable states? Location: NOrholm hede, a 350-ha heathland in southwest Denmark that was abandoned in 1895 and left to develop naturally via succession. Methods: Permanent vegetation inventory plots were established and have been revisited 11 times between 1921 and 2012. Soil conditions were recorded in 2012. We used clustering, linear mixed models, linear models, ANOVA and multivariate techniques (redundancy analysis and principal response curves) to investigate changes in the plant community and how differences in plant community composition related to soil conditions and disturbance history. Results: Ericaceous dwarf shrubs dominated most of the heathland initially. A dominance shift from dwarf shrubs to grasses occurred on about half of the plots. The other half of the plots remained dominated by dwarf shrubs, although Empetrum nigrum expanded at the expense of Calluna vulgaris. Lichen cover decreased dramatically across all plots. The divergent successional pattern was not explained by nutrient concentrations. Grasses mainly expanded in areas where they already had a substantial presence, and this initial presence was largely correlated with historical soil disturbance. Plots where dwarf shrubs remained dominant had a relatively thick O-horizon. Conclusions: Vegetation dynamics during heathland succession were not deterministically determined by soil conditions. Grass and tree expansion occurred slowly and dwarf shrub dominance was stable for more than 100yr on large parts of the heath, even in the absence of management. Management actions that disturb stable dwarf shrub vegetation may enhance grass and tree colonization.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
Deschampsia flexuosa, Calluna vulgaris, Disturbance, Empetrum nigrum, Founder effect, Molinia caerulea, Plant community, Plant-soil feedback, Succession, PLANT-SOIL FEEDBACKS, INTERSPECIFIC COMPETITION, DOMINATED ECOSYSTEMS, NITROGEN DEPOSITION, SUCCESSION, COMMUNITY, MANAGEMENT, HEATHER, FOREST, RESTORATION
journal title
JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE
J. Veg. Sci.
volume
26
issue
2
pages
254 - 266
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000349376200006
JCR category
FORESTRY
JCR impact factor
3.151 (2015)
JCR rank
3/66 (2015)
JCR quartile
1 (2015)
ISSN
1100-9233
DOI
10.1111/jvs.12230
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
7160653
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-7160653
date created
2016-03-24 08:54:11
date last changed
2016-12-19 15:47:33
@article{7160653,
  abstract     = {Questions: How does heathland vegetation composition change during ca. 100yr of succession in the absence of management? Is succession divergent or mono-directional? Do soil conditions and land-use history explain the variation in vegetation dynamics? Is there evidence for alternative stable states? 
Location: NOrholm hede, a 350-ha heathland in southwest Denmark that was abandoned in 1895 and left to develop naturally via succession. 
Methods: Permanent vegetation inventory plots were established and have been revisited 11 times between 1921 and 2012. Soil conditions were recorded in 2012. We used clustering, linear mixed models, linear models, ANOVA and multivariate techniques (redundancy analysis and principal response curves) to investigate changes in the plant community and how differences in plant community composition related to soil conditions and disturbance history. 
Results: Ericaceous dwarf shrubs dominated most of the heathland initially. A dominance shift from dwarf shrubs to grasses occurred on about half of the plots. The other half of the plots remained dominated by dwarf shrubs, although Empetrum nigrum expanded at the expense of Calluna vulgaris. Lichen cover decreased dramatically across all plots. The divergent successional pattern was not explained by nutrient concentrations. Grasses mainly expanded in areas where they already had a substantial presence, and this initial presence was largely correlated with historical soil disturbance. Plots where dwarf shrubs remained dominant had a relatively thick O-horizon. 
Conclusions: Vegetation dynamics during heathland succession were not deterministically determined by soil conditions. Grass and tree expansion occurred slowly and dwarf shrub dominance was stable for more than 100yr on large parts of the heath, even in the absence of management. Management actions that disturb stable dwarf shrub vegetation may enhance grass and tree colonization.},
  author       = {Ransijn, Johannes and Kepfer-Rojas, Sebastian and Verheyen, Kris and Riis-Nielsen, Torben and Schmidt, Inger Kappel},
  issn         = {1100-9233},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE},
  keyword      = {Deschampsia flexuosa,Calluna vulgaris,Disturbance,Empetrum nigrum,Founder effect,Molinia caerulea,Plant community,Plant-soil feedback,Succession,PLANT-SOIL FEEDBACKS,INTERSPECIFIC COMPETITION,DOMINATED ECOSYSTEMS,NITROGEN DEPOSITION,SUCCESSION,COMMUNITY,MANAGEMENT,HEATHER,FOREST,RESTORATION},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {254--266},
  title        = {Hints for alternative stable states from long-term vegetation dynamics in an unmanaged heathland},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jvs.12230},
  volume       = {26},
  year         = {2015},
}

Chicago
Ransijn, Johannes, Sebastian Kepfer-Rojas, Kris Verheyen, Torben Riis-Nielsen, and Inger Kappel Schmidt. 2015. “Hints for Alternative Stable States from Long-term Vegetation Dynamics in an Unmanaged Heathland.” Journal of Vegetation Science 26 (2): 254–266.
APA
Ransijn, J., Kepfer-Rojas, S., Verheyen, K., Riis-Nielsen, T., & Schmidt, I. K. (2015). Hints for alternative stable states from long-term vegetation dynamics in an unmanaged heathland. JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE, 26(2), 254–266.
Vancouver
1.
Ransijn J, Kepfer-Rojas S, Verheyen K, Riis-Nielsen T, Schmidt IK. Hints for alternative stable states from long-term vegetation dynamics in an unmanaged heathland. JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE. 2015;26(2):254–66.
MLA
Ransijn, Johannes, Sebastian Kepfer-Rojas, Kris Verheyen, et al. “Hints for Alternative Stable States from Long-term Vegetation Dynamics in an Unmanaged Heathland.” JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE 26.2 (2015): 254–266. Print.