Testing the validity of successional predictions on an old-field chronosequence in Hungary

Abstract

We studied the vegetation of 54 sandy old-fields abandoned at different times. We first surveyed the vegetation in 1998 and developed predictions about the spontaneous succession using the chronosequence approach. Afterwards, we repeated the survey in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003, and based on this monitoring we tested the predictions of the chronosequence study. For both approaches, we analysed the changes in functional group composition during succession. According to the chronosequence study, the most important changes occurred in the youngest old-fields, abandoned 1–4 years ago: the species number and abundance of annuals, disturbance-requiring and anthropogenic species decreased, and those of perennials, grassland generalists, and species with low disturbance-tolerance increased. No changes were predicted for the older fields. The monitoring confirmed the predictions for the youngest old-fields. However, during the 5 years of monitoring several functional groups changed in their species number or abundance even on the older abandoned fields. Both of the methods showed that secondary succession on sandy old-fields is relatively fast. The chronosequence study provided a more static view of the processes, while the multi-year monitoring revealed that there were considerable inter-annual changes as well. With the yearly monitoring we can detect the effect of additional factors, such as land use changes (e.g., changes in grazing intensity) and yearly climate fluctuations on the direction and rate of secondary succession.

Abbreviations

PFT:

Plant Functional Type

BSS:

Blue-Small Successional Study

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Csecserits, A., Szabó, R., Halassy, M. et al. Testing the validity of successional predictions on an old-field chronosequence in Hungary. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY 8, 195–207 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1556/ComEc.8.2007.2.6

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Keywords

  • Abandoned field
  • Disturbance tolerance
  • Habitat preference
  • Life form
  • Monitoring
  • Sandy grassland
  • Space-for-time substitution
  • Species groups
  • Succession