Responses of biotic interactions of dominant and subordinate species to decadal warming and simulated rotational grazing in Tibetan alpine meadow
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Warming increases competition among plant species in alpine communities by ameliorating harsh environmental conditions, such as low temperatures. Grazing, as the main human activity, may mitigate the effect of warming, as previously reported. However, it is critical to refine the effects of warming on biotic interactions among species, for example, by taking the competitive ability of species into consideration. Based on a 10-year warming and grazing experiment in a Tibetan alpine meadow, we evaluated interspecific biotic interactions of dominant and subordinate species, using the approach of interspecific spatial associations. Warming significantly increased competition between subordinate and dominant species as well as among subordinate species, but not among dominant species. Moreover, facilitation of dominant-subordinate species also increased under warming. Simulated rotational grazing had similar effects to warming, with increasing interspecific competition. Our results show that, when studying the effects of warming on biotic interactions among species, it is necessary to characterize different species pairs relative to their competitive ability, and that simulated rotational grazing does not mitigate the effects of warming in the long term. Our results also provide evidence that the spatial pattern of species is a critical mechanism in species coexistence.
Keywordsclimate warming biotic interactions dominant and subordinate species spatial pattern species coexistence
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We are grateful to Dr. Andreas Wilkes for polishing this manuscript, especially the grammar. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41230750, 31402121), the National Basic Research Program of China (2013CB956000), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFC0501802) and the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2013M541050).
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