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Native dominants in British woodland – a potential cause of reduced species-richness?

Marrs, R.H.; Kirby, K.J.; Le Duc, M.G.; McAllister, H.; Smart, S.M.; Oksanen, J.; Bunce, R.G.H.; Corney, P.M.. 2013 Native dominants in British woodland – a potential cause of reduced species-richness? New Journal of Botany, 3 (3). 156-168. 10.1179/2042349713Y.0000000028

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Abstract/Summary

The invasion of native habitats by alien species has received considerable attention. However, in Britain high levels of dominance by a small number of aggressive native plant species may have an equal, or greater, impact on the richness of native woodlands. Here, we examine this hypothesis by modelling the realized niche of native-dominant species along the principal coenocline of British woodlands, and examined niche overlaps with 78 woodland specialist species and two alien species. Four native species had a much greater cover than all other field-layer species, and between them they entirely covered the response range of all other field-layer species, replacing one another along the coenocline. These findings, combined with autecological information suggest that Hedera helix, Mercurialis perennis, Pteridium aquilinum and Rubus fruticosus have the potential to become ‘over-dominant’ and perhaps may impinge on other field-layer species. Our results also identified which field-layer species are likely to be impacted by a change in abundance of each of these dominant-species, and as such, provide a novel quantitative method of risk assessment to aid conservation policy. Understanding how woodland communities remain diverse, even in the presence of aggressive native species, may provide insights into how the impact of exotic invasive species can be managed.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1179/2042349713Y.0000000028
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 1 - Observations, Patterns, and Predictions for Biodiversity > BD - 1.3 - Long-term/large-scale monitoring and experiments ...
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 2 - Ecological Processes in the Environment > BD - 2.3 - Identify indicators and traits of ecosystem status ...
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 2 - Ecological Processes in the Environment
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 3 - Managing Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Environment
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 1 - Observations, Patterns, and Predictions for Biodiversity
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity
CEH Sections: Parr
ISSN: 2042-3489
Additional Keywords: coenocline, detrended correspondence analysis, HOF modelling, invasive species, national scale conservation policy, woodland field-layer
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Botany
Date made live: 10 Jan 2014 11:22 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/504454

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