Plant Communities: Identification, Monitoring and Evaluation of Temporal Dynamics

A special issue of Ecologies (ISSN 2673-4133).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2025 | Viewed by 13971

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Department of Informatics, Tokyo University of Information Sciences, 4-1 Onaridai, Wakaba-ku, Chiba 265-8501, Japan
Interests: remote sensing; machine learning; ecology; plant communities
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to introduce the Special Issue entitled “Plant Communities: Identification, Monitoring and Evaluation of Temporal Dynamics”, which addresses the context of global challenges associated with climate change, community adaptation and resilience, and biodiversity conservation. We are glad to invite your original contributions dealing with a broad spectrum of community ecology topics from any part of the world, including, but not limited to, the following research areas:

  • Identification and characterization of dominant species: Sampling designs; inventories of plant species; analyses of importance value indexes; identification of dominant plant species in matrix or corridor patches and ecotones.
  • Classification of plant ecological communities: Classification of vegetation of any geographical region of interest into discrete units of plant (ecological) communities based on physiognomic, ecological, physiognomic–ecological, dominant species, dominant species–physiognomic, or dominant species–physiognomy–ecological (DSPE) systems.
  • Spatial distribution modeling and prediction: Modeling and prediction of spatial distribution of plant communities including rare and endangered species in various geographical areas based on bio-climatic, topographic, geologic, or socio-economic attributes.
  • Remote sensing differentiation and mapping: Detection, differentiation, and mapping of plant species and ecological communities including invasive species on natural, agricultural, or urban ecosystems using different types of remote sensing images at different spatial levels.
  • Monitoring and evaluation of temporal dynamics: Long-term ecological process analysis using field or remote sensing data and evaluation of environmental or anthropogenic factors responsible for temporal dynamics of plant communities including tree-line species.

We thank you in advance for your contributions to this Special Issue.

Dr. Ram C. Sharma
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • plant communities
  • temporal dynamics
  • remote sensing
  • dominant species
  • classification
  • monitoring
  • evaluation
  • DSPE
  • importance value index
  • tree-line species
  • patches
  • community ecology
  • physiognomy
  • modelling
  • prediction

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

16 pages, 2006 KiB  
Article
How Do Nitrogen Deposition, Mowing, and Deer Grazing Drive Vegetation Changes on Dune Heaths?
by Mathias Emil Kaae, Fenjuan Hu, Jesper Leth Bak, Morten Tune Strandberg and Christian Frølund Damgaard
Ecologies 2024, 5(1), 116-131; https://doi.org/10.3390/ecologies5010008 - 27 Feb 2024
Viewed by 820
Abstract
Heathland vegetation has undergone significant changes in the past century, e.g., due to airborne pollutants and a lack of proper management. Understanding the interactions between these factors in combination is pivotal for heathland conservation. Here, we studied the vegetation changes at a dune [...] Read more.
Heathland vegetation has undergone significant changes in the past century, e.g., due to airborne pollutants and a lack of proper management. Understanding the interactions between these factors in combination is pivotal for heathland conservation. Here, we studied the vegetation changes at a dune heath in a four-year manipulation experiment analysing the combined effects of nitrogen deposition, mowing, and deer grazing. Our results showed no significant effect of nitrogen deposition and deer grazing on plant growth and cover of dwarf shrubs within the experimental plots. However, high loads of nitrogen decreased bryophyte cover and increased the growth and cover of sand sedge Carex arenaria L. Mowing adversely affected the dwarf shrub community, e.g., the dwarf shrub species crowberry Empetrum nigrum L., and facilitated increased cover and plant growth of graminoids. Plant growth and the cover of C. arenaria increased in plots without deer grazing, whereas bryophyte cover decreased significantly without grazing. We do not recommend intensive mowing of vegetation as a conservation method for dune heaths because it promotes graminoids. From a conservation aspect, it is essential to consider the effect of deer on heathlands because they both impede some species and benefit others and mitigate the adverse effects of nitrogen deposition on dune heaths. Full article
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17 pages, 5590 KiB  
Article
The Restoration of Degraded Landscapes along the Urban–Rural Gradient of Lubumbashi City (Democratic Republic of the Congo) by Acacia auriculiformis Plantations: Their Spatial Dynamics and Impact on Plant Diversity
by Yannick Useni Sikuzani, Héritier Khoji Muteya, Jonas Yona Mleci, Médard Mpanda Mukenza, François Malaisse and Jan Bogaert
Ecologies 2024, 5(1), 25-41; https://doi.org/10.3390/ecologies5010002 - 14 Jan 2024
Viewed by 972
Abstract
This study examines the spatio-temporal dynamics of Acacia auriculiformis in Lubumbashi city, southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, in the context of rapid urbanization following the liberalization of the mining sector. The city has experienced significant demographic growth and unplanned spatial expansion, resulting in [...] Read more.
This study examines the spatio-temporal dynamics of Acacia auriculiformis in Lubumbashi city, southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, in the context of rapid urbanization following the liberalization of the mining sector. The city has experienced significant demographic growth and unplanned spatial expansion, resulting in a decrease in vegetation cover. The introduction and proliferation of A. auriculiformis, an exotic tree species, have occurred without strategic planning or monitoring. Utilizing digitized remote sensing imagery from 2006, 2014, and 2021, we quantified the expansion of A. auriculiformis along the urban–rural gradient. Additionally, a floristic inventory conducted in 2021 provided insights into tree diversity within A. auriculiformis plantations. Our findings indicate a substantial increase in the number and area of A. auriculiformis patches, predominantly in urban zones. However, the patch values, highest in 2006, were shown to decline by 2021, especially in urban areas. The floristic inventory identified 39 tree species within A. auriculiformis plantations, including predominant species such as Albizia lebbeck, Albizia alba, and Leucaena leucocephala. Notably, 20 of these species are exotic, with half being invasive. In contrast, the 19 indigenous species were primarily found in peri-urban areas. While a greater number of tree species were observed in urban zones, larger average diameters were recorded in peri-urban zones. The persistence and expansion of A. auriculiformis in a landscape characterized by declining tree cover suggest its potential sustainability in this setting. However, A. auriculiformis plantations have facilitated the establishment of predominantly exotic and potentially invasive species. These findings highlight the need for the strategic management of A. auriculiformis and associated exotic flora to mitigate their spread and to consider their role in the restoration of degraded lands. Full article
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11 pages, 3696 KiB  
Article
Seed Source for Restoration: Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash) and the Carolina Sandhills
by Elizabeth Johnson, Althea Hotaling Hagan and Patrick Hiesl
Ecologies 2023, 4(2), 344-354; https://doi.org/10.3390/ecologies4020022 - 26 May 2023
Viewed by 1470
Abstract
Prairie and savanna ecosystems have declined dramatically worldwide. In the Southeastern United States, longleaf pine savannas have been reduced to less than 3% of their pre-European range. Restoring longleaf pine across the area has become a regional goal. Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium [...] Read more.
Prairie and savanna ecosystems have declined dramatically worldwide. In the Southeastern United States, longleaf pine savannas have been reduced to less than 3% of their pre-European range. Restoring longleaf pine across the area has become a regional goal. Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash) is critical to carrying the ecologically important fire through this ecosystem in some longleaf pine savannas. Little bluestem has a range that spans most of north America and is thought to display ecotypic variation. As a part of a longleaf pine restoration project in Camden, SC, we investigated whether the seed source of little bluestem and the site preparation techniques impacted the survival and growth of broadcasted seeds. In the field and greenhouse, we compared locally and commercially sourced seeds and field site preparation techniques including discing, raking, or no treatment. At the end of the growing season, there were significantly more plants grown from seeds collected locally compared to plants from seeds available commercially. Plants grown from locally collected seeds also invested more heavily in roots than plants grown from commercial seeds. Site preparation techniques did not appear to significantly impact plant survival. Collecting seed locally will help to ensure long-term restoration success by establishing populations of plants that are adapted to the local environmental conditions. Full article
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13 pages, 1343 KiB  
Article
The Effects of Roundup™ on Benthic Microbial Assemblages
by Shannon P. Weatherley, Hannah K. Laird, Caitlyn M. Gatley-Montross and Sarah B. Whorley
Ecologies 2022, 3(4), 557-569; https://doi.org/10.3390/ecologies3040041 - 24 Nov 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 9200
Abstract
Given the wide usage of Roundup, a common herbicide, the impacts of its presence in ecological communities are of great interest. Many studies have investigated the effects of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, on different factions of an ecosystem including on animals, [...] Read more.
Given the wide usage of Roundup, a common herbicide, the impacts of its presence in ecological communities are of great interest. Many studies have investigated the effects of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, on different factions of an ecosystem including on animals, plants, microorganisms, and nutrients. The current study expanded upon these works using Roundup instead of glyphosate to provide a realistic application in which to observe the development of microbial assemblages and nutrient composition in two different habitats. Winogradsky columns were prepared using benthic material from a ditch and a pond. Varying concentrations of Roundup were introduced to the columns at the beginning of the study and microbial growth and nutrient compositions from each column were measured weekly. The results indicate that the presence of Roundup has varying effects on microorganisms and nutrients. While photosynthetic microbes were negatively impacted, a shift in the microbial composition to heterotrophic microbes indicates that these microorganisms were able to utilize some ingredients in Roundup as a nutrient source. Additionally, the temporal analysis of nutrient compositions indicated that microbes metabolize glyphosate starting with the phosphate moiety even when the other compounds in Roundup are present. While these trends were observed in both benthic habitats, the composition of the ecological community can affect its ability to utilize the ingredients in Roundup as a nutrient source. Full article
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