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Where does the community start, and where does it end? : including the seed bank to reassess forest herb layer responses to the environment

(2017) JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE. 28(2). p.424-435
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Abstract
Question: Below-ground processes are key determinants of above-ground plant population and community dynamics. Still, our understanding of how environmental drivers shape plant communities is mostly based on above-ground diversity patterns, bypassing below-ground plant diversity stored in seed banks. As seed banks may shape above-ground plant communities, we question whether concurrently analysing the above- and below-ground species assemblages may potentially enhance our understanding of community responses to environmental variation. Location: Temperate deciduous forests along a 2000km latitudinal gradient in NW Europe. Methods: Herb layer, seed bank and local environmental data including soil pH, canopy cover, forest cover continuity and time since last canopy disturbance were collected in 129 temperate deciduous forest plots. We quantified herb layer and seed bank diversity per plot and evaluated how environmental variation structured community diversity in the herb layer, seed bank and the combined herb layer-seed bank community. Results: Seed banks consistently held more plant species than the herb layer. How local plot diversity was partitioned across the herb layer and seed bank was mediated by environmental variation in drivers serving as proxies of light availability. The herb layer and seed bank contained an ever smaller and ever larger share of local diversity, respectively, as both canopy cover and time since last canopy disturbance decreased. Species richness and -diversity of the combined herb layer-seed bank community responded distinctly differently compared to the separate assemblages in response to environmental variation in, e.g. forest cover continuity and canopy cover. Conclusions: The seed bank is a below-ground diversity reservoir of the herbaceous forest community, which interacts with the herb layer, although constrained by environmental variation in e.g. light availability. The herb layer and seed bank co-exist as a single community by means of the so-called storage effect, resulting in distinct responses to environmental variation not necessarily recorded in the individual herb layer or seed bank assemblages. Thus, concurrently analysing above- and below-ground diversity will improve our ecological understanding of how understorey plant communities respond to environmental variation.
Keywords
Above-ground, Below-ground, Canopy, Disturbance, Diversity, Light availability, NWEurope, Plant community, Species co-existence, Storage effect, PLANT-SPECIES RICHNESS, TEMPERATE DECIDUOUS FORESTS, PAST LAND-USE, SECONDARY SUCCESSION, MANAGED FORESTS, BEECH FOREST, DIVERSITY, COEXISTENCE, HETEROGENEITY, ECOSYSTEMS

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Citation

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Chicago
Plue, Jan, Pieter De Frenne, Kamal Acharya, Jörg Brunet, Olivier Chabrerie, Guillaume Decocq, Martin Diekmann, et al. 2017. “Where Does the Community Start, and Where Does It End? : Including the Seed Bank to Reassess Forest Herb Layer Responses to the Environment.” Journal of Vegetation Science 28 (2): 424–435.
APA
Plue, Jan, De Frenne, P., Acharya, K., Brunet, J., Chabrerie, O., Decocq, G., Diekmann, M., et al. (2017). Where does the community start, and where does it end? : including the seed bank to reassess forest herb layer responses to the environment. JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE, 28(2), 424–435.
Vancouver
1.
Plue J, De Frenne P, Acharya K, Brunet J, Chabrerie O, Decocq G, et al. Where does the community start, and where does it end? : including the seed bank to reassess forest herb layer responses to the environment. JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE. 2017;28(2):424–35.
MLA
Plue, Jan, Pieter De Frenne, Kamal Acharya, et al. “Where Does the Community Start, and Where Does It End? : Including the Seed Bank to Reassess Forest Herb Layer Responses to the Environment.” JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE 28.2 (2017): 424–435. Print.
@article{8505938,
  abstract     = {Question: Below-ground processes are key determinants of above-ground plant population and community dynamics. Still, our understanding of how environmental drivers shape plant communities is mostly based on above-ground diversity patterns, bypassing below-ground plant diversity stored in seed banks. As seed banks may shape above-ground plant communities, we question whether concurrently analysing the above- and below-ground species assemblages may potentially enhance our understanding of community responses to environmental variation. 
Location: Temperate deciduous forests along a 2000km latitudinal gradient in NW Europe. 
Methods: Herb layer, seed bank and local environmental data including soil pH, canopy cover, forest cover continuity and time since last canopy disturbance were collected in 129 temperate deciduous forest plots. We quantified herb layer and seed bank diversity per plot and evaluated how environmental variation structured community diversity in the herb layer, seed bank and the combined herb layer-seed bank community. 
Results: Seed banks consistently held more plant species than the herb layer. How local plot diversity was partitioned across the herb layer and seed bank was mediated by environmental variation in drivers serving as proxies of light availability. The herb layer and seed bank contained an ever smaller and ever larger share of local diversity, respectively, as both canopy cover and time since last canopy disturbance decreased. Species richness and -diversity of the combined herb layer-seed bank community responded distinctly differently compared to the separate assemblages in response to environmental variation in, e.g. forest cover continuity and canopy cover. 
Conclusions: The seed bank is a below-ground diversity reservoir of the herbaceous forest community, which interacts with the herb layer, although constrained by environmental variation in e.g. light availability. The herb layer and seed bank co-exist as a single community by means of the so-called storage effect, resulting in distinct responses to environmental variation not necessarily recorded in the individual herb layer or seed bank assemblages. Thus, concurrently analysing above- and below-ground diversity will improve our ecological understanding of how understorey plant communities respond to environmental variation.},
  author       = {Plue, Jan and De Frenne, Pieter and Acharya, Kamal and Brunet, J{\"o}rg and Chabrerie, Olivier and Decocq, Guillaume and Diekmann, Martin and Graae, Bente J and Heinken, Thilo and Hermy, Martin and Kolb, Annette and Lemke, Isgard and Liira, Jaan and Naaf, Tobias and Verheyen, Kris and Wulf, Monika and Cousins, Sara AO},
  issn         = {1100-9233},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE},
  keyword      = {Above-ground,Below-ground,Canopy,Disturbance,Diversity,Light availability,NWEurope,Plant community,Species co-existence,Storage effect,PLANT-SPECIES RICHNESS,TEMPERATE DECIDUOUS FORESTS,PAST LAND-USE,SECONDARY SUCCESSION,MANAGED FORESTS,BEECH FOREST,DIVERSITY,COEXISTENCE,HETEROGENEITY,ECOSYSTEMS},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {424--435},
  title        = {Where does the community start, and where does it end? : including the seed bank to reassess forest herb layer responses to the environment},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jvs.12493},
  volume       = {28},
  year         = {2017},
}

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