Beneficiary feedback effects on alpine cushion benefactors become more negative with increasing cover of graminoids and in dry conditions
Callaway, Ragan M.
- Journal Article
In facilitative interactions, the beneficiary feedback effect (BFE) has been defined as the effect of beneficiary species (facilitated species) on their benefactor. BFEs have been shown to be dependent on environmental conditions and the composition of the beneficiary community. In alpine cushion systems, BFEs are more negative with more abundant, diverse and phylogenetically aggregated communities of beneficiary species. We tested the hypothesis that the functional composition of the beneficiary communities correlates with the direction and strength of BFE received by alpine cushion benefactors and specifically that a more negative BFE would occur with increasing density of graminoids and a more positive BFE would occur with increasing density of forbs and legumes. Additionally, we predicted that the negative BFE of graminoids would increase with increasing summer aridity. We used a data base of alpine cushion communities from 30 sites throughout the world to assess the overall relationship between the composition of beneficiary communities and the total flower density of cushion benefactors, and its variation with increasing drought. Additionally, in order to assess more precisely the role of the functional composition of the beneficiary communities on BFE in a very dry site with cushion benefactors exhibiting contrasting functional compositions of beneficiary communities, we also designed a field study in the Qilian Shan mountain range (China). At this site with a highly continental climate, we compared the number of flowers and fruits of different phenotypes of the alpine cushion species Thylacospermum caespitosum hosting numerous graminoids, numerous forbs or very few beneficiary species. In the intercontinental study, we found a negative relationship between graminoids and cushion benefactor flower density but no effect of other functional groups. The negative BFE of graminoids increased with increasing summer drought. In the dry Qilian Shan range, we found both a negative effect of graminoids on total flower density and a positive effect of forbs on flower density and fruit set. Our study indicates that the context dependence of BFE may be partially explained by the composition of beneficiary communities and in particular the negative effect of graminoids. © 2016 British Ecological Society Show more
Journal / seriesFunctional Ecology
Pages / Article No.
SubjectAlpine communities; Beneficiary feedback effect; Community feedbacks; Competition; Cushion plants; Drought; Facilitation; Functional composition; Graminoids; alpine environment; aridity; drought; environmental conditions; facilitation; fruit set; grass; herb; legume; phylogenetics; species diversity; China; Qilian Mountains
Organisational unit02350 - Departement Umweltsystemwissenschaften / Department of Environmental Systems Science
02703 - Institut für Agrarwissenschaften / Institute of Agricultural Sciences (IAS)
09618 - Schöb, Christian (SNF-Professur)
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