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Disentangling the Effects of Disturbance from Those of Dominant Tall Grass Features in Driving the Functional Variation of Restored Grassland in a Sub-Mediterranean Context

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School of Biosciences and Veterinary Medicine, University of Camerino, via Pontoni 5, 62032 Camerino, Italy
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Herbarium Universitatis Camerinensis, School of Biosciences and Veterinary Medicine, University of Camerino, via Pontoni 5, 62032 Camerino, Italy
3
Department of Taxonomy and Ecology, Faculty of Biology and Geology, Babeş-Bolyai University, 42 Republicii Street, 400015 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2020, 12(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12010011
Received: 25 November 2019 / Revised: 17 December 2019 / Accepted: 23 December 2019 / Published: 24 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Community Ecology: From Theory to Practice)
Land abandonment in sub-Mediterranean grasslands causes the spread of tall-grasses, affecting biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Mowing allows the recovery of the coenological composition after invasion, but the mechanisms acting at the fine-scale are poorly investigated. Since 2010 in the Central Apennines, we fenced a grassland invaded by Brachypodium rupestre, divided it into two areas, half of each was mowed biyearly and half remained unmown. In 2017 we selected ten 20 × 20 cm experimental units per half-area, collecting data on species occurrences, plant traits, B. rupestre height and phytomass. We used generalized linear mixed-effect modelling to disentangle the role of mowing from the impact of B. rupestre features in driving the community functional variations. Mowing was the main driver in the recovery process, acting as an abiotic filter (enhancement of tolerance-avoidance strategies). Furthermore, the reduction of weaker competitor exclusion processes fostered the increase of functional variation between coexisting species. Both drivers acted on different plant traits (e.g., mowing on life span, vegetative propagation types and plant height, mowing and B. rupestre features on space occupation types, seed mass and leaf anatomy), generally enhancing the extent of functional strategies related to resource acquisition and storage, reproduction, space occupation and temporal niche exploitation. View Full-Text
Keywords: Brachypodium rupestre (Host) Roem. & Schult.; ecosystem functioning; weaker competitor exclusion; mowing; plant traits; abiotic filtering Brachypodium rupestre (Host) Roem. & Schult.; ecosystem functioning; weaker competitor exclusion; mowing; plant traits; abiotic filtering
MDPI and ACS Style

Bricca, A.; Tardella, F.M.; Tolu, F.; Goia, I.; Ferrara, A.; Catorci, A. Disentangling the Effects of Disturbance from Those of Dominant Tall Grass Features in Driving the Functional Variation of Restored Grassland in a Sub-Mediterranean Context. Diversity 2020, 12, 11.

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