Journal of Resources and Ecology ›› 2014, Vol. 5 ›› Issue (2): 139-147.doi: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2014.02.006

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A Seventeen-Year Quantitative Study of Succession in Central European Grassland

ZHANG Yuanyuan1,2, Johanna JÖRG2, Carl BEIERKUHNLEIN2, XUE Dayuan1,3   

  1. 1 College of Life and Environmental Science, Minzu University of China, Beijing 100081, China;
    2 Department of Biogeography, University of Bayreuth, Universitätsstraße 30, Bayreuth 95447, Germany;
    3 Nanjing Institute of Environmental Science, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Nanjing 210042, China
  • Received:2014-03-03 Revised:2014-04-17 Online:2014-06-18 Published:2014-06-06
  • Contact: XUE Dayuan.
  • Supported by:

    Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC)(201206390030); the China Bureau of Foreign Experts, the Ministry of Education of China (111 Program, Grant 2008-B08044), and “985 Programme” of Minzu University of China (Grant Number MUC98504-14, MUC98507-08).

Abstract: The objective of this paper is to test three main hypotheses in grassland succession by using 17-year observational data: (ⅰ) species diversity increases during early pioneering stages; (ⅱ) the similarity rate of experimental plant communities increases along with the succession process (dissimilarity rate among plots decrease with succession age); and (ⅲ) plant communities in different field plots converge towards a quite similar composition during the initial years of succession. Results draw from quantitative statistics which including: the general development of plant communities, Shannon's H and E, Bray-Curtis dissimilarity and community turnover, indicate that after first 5 years of succession, species diversity rapidly becomes alike among all the plots. The average species number in all plots increased constantly from 8 to 25. Meanwhile, the total species number for all plots increased constantly from 23 to 55, accompanied by a steady decrease in Standard Deviation (S.D.) from 4.6 to 0.3. Additionally, dissimilarity of all stands in species composition decreased, indicating a clear trend towards a rapid convergence in species richness and composition. The most important effect of cessation of weeding is that the artificial diversity gradient from 1 to 16 species gets diminished by immigration in species poor plots.

Key words: grassland, plant communities, succession, long-term experiment, Central Europe