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Community Ecology

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 45–54 | Cite as

Do climate, resource availability, and grazing pressure filter floristic composition and functioning in Alpine pastures?

  • M. DaineseEmail author
  • M. Scotton
  • F. Clementel
  • A. Pecile
  • J. Lepš
Article
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Abstract

We studied the floristic composition in the pastures of the Southern Alps (Trento Province, Italy). One hundred and five plots in seven different pasture plant communities were sampled: (1) nitrophilous, (2) montane mesic, (3) subalpine mesic, (4) calcareous montane, (5) calcareous subalpine, (6) acid montane, and (7) acid subalpine pastures. Forward selection and variation partitioning were applied to identify the most important factors controlling the species composition and plant traits in the pastures. Aggregated weighted averages were calculated for each plot using the published values of average height, specific leaf area, and seed mass for each species. Explanatory variables were recorded for each site to reflect climate, soil properties, and grazing pressure. We hypothesised that species composition and functional variation in pastures of the Southern Alps are controlled by three main environmental filters: climate, resource availability, and grazing pressure. We found that variables of climate and soil properties had a major role in explaining the species composition and variations in plant traits, while grazing pressure showed a lower independent effect. Species composition and plant traits depended mainly on temperature, soil fertility, and variables of bedrock type - soil pH. Our results confirm the importance of taking the effects of climate and resource availability into account when describing plant and community functions of grasslands.

Keywords

Bedrock Elevation gradient LHS plant strategy Management Phosphorus Slope Temperature Variation partitioning 

Abbreviations

ACID

volcanic and metamorphic acid bedrock

CAL

sedimentary calcareous bedrock

CH

canopy height

DIST

distance to the farm centre

D_SOIL

soil depth

GRAZ

grazing intensity

LHS

leaf-height-seed

MIX

mixed debris

pH

soil pH

PREC

total summer precipitation

P_SOIL

Olsen P in soil

RDA

canonical redundancy analysis

SLA

specific leaf area

SLOPE

slope angle

SM

seed mass

TEM

mean summer temperature

VBAS

volcanic basic bedrock

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© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2012

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Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Dainese
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. Scotton
    • 2
  • F. Clementel
    • 3
  • A. Pecile
    • 4
  • J. Lepš
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Land and Agroforest EnvironmentsUniversity of PadovaLegnaro, PadovaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Agronomy and Crop ProductionUniversity of PadovaLegnaro, PadovaItaly
  3. 3.CRA-MPF Forest and Range Management Research InstituteTrentoItaly
  4. 4.CTT, Edmund Mach FoundationSan Michele all’Adige, TrentoItaly
  5. 5.Department of Botany, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of South BohemiaČeské BudĕjoviceCzech Republic
  6. 6.Institute of Entomology of Biological Centre CASČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic

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