Journal or Book Title
Biodiversity can be partitioned into alpha, beta, and gamma components, and beta diversity is not as clearly understood. Biotic homogenization predicts that exotic species should lower beta diversity at global and continental scales, but it is still unclear how exotic species impact beta diversity at smaller scales. Exotic species could theoretically increase or decrease beta diversity relative to natives depending on many factors, including abiotic conditions, community assembly history, management, dispersal rates of species, and connectivity among patches. We sampled plant species abundances in 42 novel, exotic- and native-dominated (remnant) grasslands across a latitudinal gradient in the tallgrass prairie region, and tested whether exotic and native grasslands differed in beta diversity at three scales: across sites within the entire biome, across sites within regions, and across locations within sites. Exotic-dominated grasslands differed from native-dominated grasslands in beta diversity at all scales, but the direction of the difference changed from positive to negative as scales went from large to small. Contrary to expectations, exotic-dominated grasslands had higher beta diversity than native-dominated grasslands at the largest scale considered. This occurred because the identity of dominant exotic species varied across the latitudinal gradient, with many exotic grassland pairs exhibiting zero similarity, whereas native-dominated grasslands differed more gradually with distance. Beta diversity among sites within a region was variable, with exotic-dominated grasslands having 29% higher beta diversity than native grasslands in the south and 33% lower beta diversity in the north. Within sites, beta diversity was 26% lower in exotic-dominated than native grasslands. Our results provide evidence that different regional identities and abundances of exotics, and lack of connectivity in fragmented landscapes can alter beta diversity in unexpected ways across spatial scales.
Ecological Society of America
Martin, Leanne M. and Wilsey, Brian J., "Differences in Beta Diversity Between Exotic and Native Grasslands Vary with Scale Along a Latitudinal Gradient" (2015). Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology Publications. 88.