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Plant traits of propagule banks and standing vegetation reveal flooding alleviates impacts of agriculture on wetland restoration

Plant traits of propagule banks and standing vegetation reveal flooding alleviates impacts of agriculture on wetland restoration
Plant traits of propagule banks and standing vegetation reveal flooding alleviates impacts of agriculture on wetland restoration
1.Restoration of degraded plant communities requires understanding of community assembly processes. Human land-use can influence plant community assembly by altering environmental conditions and species’ dispersal patterns. Flooding, including from environmental flows, may counteract land-use effects on wetland vegetation. We examined the influence of land-use history and flood frequency on the functional composition of wetland plant communities along a regulated river.

2.We applied fourth corner modeling to determine species’ trait-based responses to flooding and land-use by combining data on i) the occupancy and abundance of species in propagule banks and standing vegetation, ii) species traits, and iii) environmental conditions of 22 standing vegetation and 108 soil propagule bank study sites. We used analysis of deviance to test how well each dataset characterised trait-environment interactions, and generalised linear models to identify traits related to species’ responses.

3.The occupancy and abundance of native species in the propagule bank and standing vegetation increased with flood frequency and decreased with duration of agricultural land-use. Species in standing vegetation with water-borne propagule dispersal (hydrochory) showed similar trends. In contrast, species with higher specific leaf area were associated with longer land-use duration.

4.Identifying trait-based differences in the propagule bank and standing vegetation can help disentangle effects of dispersal and environmental filters. The occupancy and abundance of hydrochorous species in standing vegetation were negatively related to land-use duration, but hydrochorous species were positively related to land-use duration based on their abundance in the propagule bank. This suggests that land-use does not limit plant dispersal, but acts as an in situ abiotic filter limiting species presence in standing vegetation.

5.Synthesis: Land-use duration and flood frequency have opposite effects on plant community traits in floodplain wetlands of the Macquarie Marshes, Australia. Legacies of agriculture can impede restoration of plant communities. Environmental flows that increase flooding may alleviate these impacts, especially in areas that have been used for agriculture for over 20 years, by providing dispersal and environmental filters that favour native wetland species. More flooding will likely be required to restore floodplains with longer histories of agricultural land-use compared to floodplains less impacted by agriculture.
1907-1918
Dawson, Samantha
c95ebdca-bb95-4c77-8f98-706ee82f9c63
Warton, David
aaed89a0-aebd-41cb-b3a9-da7f3b12c518
Kingsford, Richard
68d299cd-173e-4be7-9fd2-b65bacf643f5
Berney, Peter
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Keith, David
469ee0ce-c227-4bd4-aa68-373760ae3b95
Catford, Jane
c80a4529-b7cb-4d36-aba8-f38de01ce729
Dawson, Samantha
c95ebdca-bb95-4c77-8f98-706ee82f9c63
Warton, David
aaed89a0-aebd-41cb-b3a9-da7f3b12c518
Kingsford, Richard
68d299cd-173e-4be7-9fd2-b65bacf643f5
Berney, Peter
462fca90-40e8-4648-9911-9222b961af13
Keith, David
469ee0ce-c227-4bd4-aa68-373760ae3b95
Catford, Jane
c80a4529-b7cb-4d36-aba8-f38de01ce729

Dawson, Samantha, Warton, David, Kingsford, Richard, Berney, Peter, Keith, David and Catford, Jane (2017) Plant traits of propagule banks and standing vegetation reveal flooding alleviates impacts of agriculture on wetland restoration. Journal of Applied Ecology, 54 (6), 1907-1918. (doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12922).

Record type: Article

Abstract

1.Restoration of degraded plant communities requires understanding of community assembly processes. Human land-use can influence plant community assembly by altering environmental conditions and species’ dispersal patterns. Flooding, including from environmental flows, may counteract land-use effects on wetland vegetation. We examined the influence of land-use history and flood frequency on the functional composition of wetland plant communities along a regulated river.

2.We applied fourth corner modeling to determine species’ trait-based responses to flooding and land-use by combining data on i) the occupancy and abundance of species in propagule banks and standing vegetation, ii) species traits, and iii) environmental conditions of 22 standing vegetation and 108 soil propagule bank study sites. We used analysis of deviance to test how well each dataset characterised trait-environment interactions, and generalised linear models to identify traits related to species’ responses.

3.The occupancy and abundance of native species in the propagule bank and standing vegetation increased with flood frequency and decreased with duration of agricultural land-use. Species in standing vegetation with water-borne propagule dispersal (hydrochory) showed similar trends. In contrast, species with higher specific leaf area were associated with longer land-use duration.

4.Identifying trait-based differences in the propagule bank and standing vegetation can help disentangle effects of dispersal and environmental filters. The occupancy and abundance of hydrochorous species in standing vegetation were negatively related to land-use duration, but hydrochorous species were positively related to land-use duration based on their abundance in the propagule bank. This suggests that land-use does not limit plant dispersal, but acts as an in situ abiotic filter limiting species presence in standing vegetation.

5.Synthesis: Land-use duration and flood frequency have opposite effects on plant community traits in floodplain wetlands of the Macquarie Marshes, Australia. Legacies of agriculture can impede restoration of plant communities. Environmental flows that increase flooding may alleviate these impacts, especially in areas that have been used for agriculture for over 20 years, by providing dispersal and environmental filters that favour native wetland species. More flooding will likely be required to restore floodplains with longer histories of agricultural land-use compared to floodplains less impacted by agriculture.

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Dawson_et_al_JApplEcol_accepted_270317 - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 27 March 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 10 April 2017
Published date: December 2017
Organisations: Environmental

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Local EPrints ID: 407350
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/407350
PURE UUID: 2ef09da9-0e7e-4712-ad85-61082b2efc0a
ORCID for Jane Catford: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0582-5960

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Date deposited: 04 Apr 2017 01:04
Last modified: 28 Apr 2022 05:22

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Contributors

Author: Samantha Dawson
Author: David Warton
Author: Richard Kingsford
Author: Peter Berney
Author: David Keith
Author: Jane Catford ORCID iD

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