Biodiversity Science ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (7): 667-677.doi: 10.17520/biods.2018045

• Orginal Article • Previous Article     Next Article

Co-existence mechanisms of plant species within “soil islands” habitat of desert steppe

Song Naiping*(), Wang Xing, Chen Lin, Xue Yi, Chen Juan, Sui Jinming, Wang Lei, Yang Xinguo   

  1. Breeding Base for State Key Laboratory of Land Degradation and Ecological Restoration in Northwest China, Key Laboratory for Restoration and Reconstruction of Degraded Ecosystem in Northwest China of Ministry of Education, Ningxia University, Yinchuan 750021
  • Received:2018-02-08 Accepted:2018-05-15 Online:2018-09-11
  • Song Naiping E-mail:songnp@163.com

Extensive fragmentation has led to the original desert steppe soils of hard sierozem to become isolated in the desertified lands, forming the so-called “soil islands”. We aimed to reveal the effect of fragmentation on the co-existence of plant species within “soil islands” habitat. To this end, we characterized the plant communities on three large (200-300 m2), medium (about 100 m2) and small (about 50 m2) soil islands each, in the Wanjigou Village of Yanchi County in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region of China. We analyzed the similarity of plant community within and outside those soil islands, the breadth and overlap of plant ecological niche, the species co-existence pattern and its influencing factors using Jaccard similarity coefficient, niche overlapping degree formula, null model analysis, and meta-analysis. Our results showed that: (1) with increased fragmentation, plant diversity within the soil island decreased, and the dominant plant species changed from Stipa breviflora to a combination of Artemisia scoparia and S. breviflora, and the plant communities within soil islands became more similar to communities outside; (2) most species showed relatively small ecological niche overlap between within and outside soil islands, with the overlap showing concentrated distribution within soil islands but scattered distribution outside the islands; (3) environmental filtering was the main driver of species co-existence patterns. As soil islands became larger, the effect of environmental factors on species co-existence decreased, and the key environmental factor that explained species composition changed from clay and fine sand to coarse sand. Notably, a competition was a key driver of co-existence patterns within small “soil islands”. In summary, “soil islands” provide an important habitat for representative plant species in the desert steppe and environmental factors influenced species co-existence patterns. Both processes were disrupted by fragmentation. Maintaining soil islands larger than 200 m2 would be critical for restoring representative plant species and preserving plant diversity of the desert steppe ecosystems.

Key words: habitat fragmentation, soil islands, niche overlap, species co-existence, desert steppe

Fig. 1

Jaccard dissimilarity matrix heat map for different area soil islands. The purple indicate the 0 value reflecting the maximum similarity, the turquoise indicate the 1 value reflecting the minimum similarity. The numbers 1-3, 4-6 and 7-8 represent inside, marginal and outside areas of the soil islands, respectively."

Table 1

Density of Stipa breviflora and Artemisia scoparia inside and outside the soil islands (mean ± SD)"

土岛内部 Inside the soil island 土岛外部 Outside the soil island
大土岛 Large island 中土岛 Medium island 小土岛 Small island 中土岛 Medium island 小土岛 small island
短花针茅 S. breviflora 22.28 ± 11.17ab 29.75 ± 10.43a 28.17 ± 14.24a 13.19 ± 6.38bc 7.03 ± 5.25bc
猪毛蒿 A. scoparia 4.68 ± 3.65c 29.33 ± 20.56bc 38.42 ± 3.47bc 69.63 ± 13.99ab 73.83 ± 30.46ab

Table 2

Plant diversity and biomass among different soil islands (mean ± SD)"

物种数
Species richness
Simpson指数
Simpson index
Shannon-Wiener指数
Shannon-Wiener index
均匀度指数
Evenness index
β多样性
β diversity
生物量
Biomass
内部
Inside
大土岛 Large island 10.1 ± 2.26a 0.89 ± 0.2a 2.48 ± 0.39a 0.98 ± 0.19a 2.93 ± 0.67a 44.34 ± 5.45bc
中土岛 Medium island 9.64 ± 2.98a 0.85 ± 0.19a 2.27 ± 0.28a 0.93 ± 0.14a 2.49 ± 0.57ab 55.29 ± 2.13abc
小土岛 Small island 9.66 ± 1.23a 0.87 ± 0.17a 2.25 ± 0.20a 0.91 ± 0.12a 2.24 ± 0.6ab 34.66 ± 6.41c
外部
Outside
大土岛 Large island 11.15 ± 3.36a 0.83 ± 0.16a 2.11 ± 0.39ab 0.82 ± 0.05a 1.89 ± 0.4b 86.46 ± 41.13a
中土岛 Medium island 8.89 ± 1.86a 0.73 ± 0.15a 1.83 ± 0.46ab 0.78 ± 0.20a 2.59 ± 0.3ab 89.48 ± 32.24a
小土岛 Small island 7.5 ± 0.94a 0.61 ± 0.02a 1.48 ± 0.15b 0.74 ± 0.13a 2.6 ± 0.52ab 81.54 ± 7.64ab

Table 3

Species co-occurrence analysis for plant community among different soil islands (null model analysis)"

土岛 Soil island 实际值C-score
Observed C-score
模拟值C-score
Simulated C-score
实际值小于模拟值的P值
P-observed < P-simulated
实际值大于模拟值的P值
P-observed > P-simulated
标准效应量
Standardized effect size
内部
Inside
大土岛 Large island 25.11 25.05 0.64 0.36 0.29
中土岛 Medium island 10.25 10.23 0.6 0.41 0.16
小土岛 Small island 7.8 7.63 0.95 0.05 1.85
外部
Outside
大土岛 Large island 9.32 9.27 0.72 0.29 0.5
中土岛 Medium island 9.44 9.15 0.02 0.02 2.22
小土岛 Small island 11.99 11.8 0.94 0.06 1.62

Fig. 2

Frequency distribution of standardized effect size (SES) among the pairs of coexisting species. A, B and C indicate inside the large, medium and small islands, respectively. D, E and F indicate outside the large, medium and small islands, respectively. The lines represent the 95% confidence interval."

Fig. 3

Meta analysis of species pairs with significant interactions. A, B and C indicate inside the large, medium and small soil islands, respectively. D, E and F indicate outside the large, medium and small soil islands, respectively."

Fig. 4

Meta analysis of the strength interaction for significant species pairs in soil islands community. A, B and C indicate inside the large, medium and small islands, respectively. D, E and F indicate outside the large, medium and small islands, respectively."

Table 4

Test for meta heterogeneity of the strength interaction among significant species pairs inside the soil island"

参数 Parameter 总异质性
Total heterogeneity
混合效应模型 Mixed-Effects Model
PC1 PC2 PC3 Area
土岛内部
Inside the soil islands
模型方差 tau2 Estimated amount of total heterogeneity 0.97 0.1565 0.1897 2.1863 1.7245
标准差 SD 1.16 0.4067 0.4516 3.3815 2.8083
R2 (amount of heterogeneity accounted for) 85.36% 80.44% 0% 0%
异质性检验结果 Test for heterogeneity
自由度 Q (df = 2) 12.68 2.1946 5.1145 0.0039 0.2431
P-val P < 0.01 0.017 0.0237 0.9504 0.622
土岛内外
Outside and inside the soil islands
模型方差 tau2 Estimated amount of total heterogeneity 0.29 - - - -
自由度 Q (df = 5) 14.45 1.06 0.3759 0.745 -
P-val P 0.01 0.7867 0.5398 0.3881 -

Table 5

Community niche analysis for selected environmental principal components"

环境变量
Environment
variables
实测值
Observed
value
模拟值
Mean of
simulated value
标准效应量
SES
实测值大于模拟值的P值
P-observed > P-simulated
实测值小于模拟值的P值
P-observed < P-simulated
大土岛 Large island PC1 0.61 0.60 1.01 0.86 0.14
PC2 0.61 0.54 6.62 0.00 1.00
中土岛 Medium island PC1 0.54 0.54 0.53 0.24 0.76
PC2 0.55 0.47 5.61 0.00 1.00
小土岛 Small island PC1 0.49 0.44 2.39 0.03 0.97
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