Plant species diversity along a climatic gradient in the southwestern US

TitlePlant species diversity along a climatic gradient in the southwestern US
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsKroel-Dulay G., Hochstrasser T., Coffin D.P., Gosz J.R
Conference Name83rd Annual Meeting, Ecological Society of America
Date Published1998
ARIS Log Number089567
AbstractSpatial and temporal variation in plain species diversity results from multiple factors including land use history, disturbance regime and soil characteristics. At the biome level, climate is the main driving factor of species distributions. The objective of this study was to investigate, the change in species richness and diversity in two grassland biomes of the US (the Shortgrass Steppe and the Chiuahuan Desert Grasslands) for sites along a climatic gradient 4x4m quadrats were sampled from a 50 ha area on three sites representing the two biomes and their ecotone. Results show that the total species richness and diversity decreased as the climate became more arid. Furthermore, a marked shift from a predominance of perennial forbs to equal numbers of annual and perennial forbs vas observed with increased aridity. The grasslands on the ecotone between the two biomes supported a diversity similar to the Chihuahuan desert grassland rather than an expected increased diversity relative to the biomes. Our results suggest that different functional groups of species respond more to long versus short term weather conditions.