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Journal Articles Ecological Modelling Year : 2018

Modelling vegetation dynamics in managed grasslands: Responses to drivers depend on species richness

Abstract

In mathematical grassland models, plant communities may be represented by a various number of state vari- ables, describing biomass compartments of some dominant species or plant functional types. The size of the initial species pool could have consequences on the outcome of the simulated ecosystem dynamics in terms of grassland productivity, diversity, and stability. This choice could also influence the model sensitivity to forcing parameters. To address these issues, we developed a dynamic grassland model, DynaGraM, designed to simulate seasonal changes in both aboveground biomass production and species composition of managed permanent grasslands under various soil, climate and management conditions. We compared simulation results from alternative in- stances of DynaGraM that only differ by the identity and number of state variables describing the green biomass, here plant species. We assessed the sensitivity of each instance of the model to key forcing parameters for climate, soil fertility, and defoliation disturbances, using univariate and multivariate regression trees and dy- namic trees. Results of 10-year simulations under various climate, fertility and defoliation conditions showed that the final total biomass was tending to increase with the size of the species pool, while species evenness and the proportion of surviving species was tending to decrease. We found a positive correlation between the species survival ratio and the defoliation intensity, and this correlation increased with the initial species richness. The sensitivity to forcing parameters of community structure and species evenness differed markedly among alternative models, showing a progressive shift from high importance of soil fertility (fertilisation level, mineralization rate) to high importance of defoliation (mowing frequency, grazing intensity) as the size of the species pool increased. By contrast, the key drivers of total biomass production were independent of species richness and only linked to resource supply (nitrogen and water). These results highlight the need to take into account the role of species diversity to explain the behaviour of grassland models.
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Dates and versions

hal-01779748 , version 1 (28-10-2021)

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Thibault Moulin, Antoine Perasso, François Gillet. Modelling vegetation dynamics in managed grasslands: Responses to drivers depend on species richness. Ecological Modelling, 2018, 374, pp.22 - 36. ⟨10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2018.02.013⟩. ⟨hal-01779748⟩
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