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Changes in vegetation structure and composition of a lowland mire over a sixty-five-year interval.

Lovegrove, A.T., Newton, A., Evans, P.M., Diaz, A., Newton, A.C., Davy, L. and Newbould, P.J., 2020. Changes in vegetation structure and composition of a lowland mire over a sixty-five-year interval. Ecology and Evolution, 10 (24), 13913-13925.

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DOI: 10.1002/ece3.6984

Abstract

Mires are characterized by plant communities of high conservation and societal value, which have experienced a major decline in area in many parts of the world, particularly Europe. Evidence suggests that they may be particularly vulnerable to changes in climate and nutrient addition. Although they have been the focus of extensive paleoecological research, few attempts have been made to examine the dynamics of mire vegetation during the current era of anthropogenic environmental change. To assess long‐term change in the spatial structure and composition of a lowland mire community, in 2016 we resurveyed plots first surveyed in 1951. Measures of species richness and composition were compared between the two surveys, and changes in community composition were related to plant traits. Overall, mean species richness declined by 26%. The area of occupancy declined in 37% of species, which were primarily oligotrophic species typical of nutrient‐poor bog communities. Conversely, occupancy increased in 21% of species, especially those that were more tolerant of higher nutrient availability. These changes were associated with variation in plant functional traits, as indicated by an increase mean Ellenberg trait values for nitrogen and mean temperature, and a decline in values for precipitation. These results suggest that eutrophication and climate change have been key drivers of floristic change on this site. Synthesis. This investigation provides a rare assessment of the dynamics of a mire community over a multi‐decadal interval. Results indicate that substantial change has occurred in the composition of the community, and the distribution of species within it. The investigation provides evidence of the impact of environmental change on the composition and structure of a lowland mire community, and highlights challenges for its future conservation.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:2045-7758
Additional Information:Funding Information: Bournemouth University
Uncontrolled Keywords:biodiversity ; bog ; conservation ; determinants of plant community diversity and structure ; environmental change ; peatland ; plant distribution
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:34920
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:01 Dec 2020 10:10
Last Modified:11 Jan 2021 15:01

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