Exotic species explain plant functional trait differences between seed mixes, restored and reference prairies

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Kaul, Andrew
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© 2023 International Association for Vegetation Science
Wilsey, Brian
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Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology

The Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology seeks to teach the studies of ecology (organisms and their environment), evolutionary theory (the origin and interrelationships of organisms), and organismal biology (the structure, function, and biodiversity of organisms). In doing this, it offers several majors which are codirected with other departments, including biology, genetics, and environmental sciences.

The Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology was founded in 2003 as a merger of the Department of Botany, the Department of Microbiology, and the Department of Zoology and Genetics.

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Are community‐weighted plant functional traits related to the ‘fast‐slow’ growth rate continuum different in seed mixes, restored and reference prairies? If so, then what are the traits that explain differences? Remnant prairies, which serve as reference sites for restorations, often have higher plant species diversity and a lower abundance of exotic (nonnative) species than their restoration counterparts. They may differ in their community-weighted functional traits as well, although this is poorly studied.
Tallgrass prairies and abandoned fields in Iowa, USA, North America.
We compared functional traits between remnant prairies, restoration seed mixes, and established restorations to determine if community weighted trait values (Σpi x traits) are comparable. Relative abundance was determined by previous sampling of 93 restorations, 48 seed mixes and five remnant sites. Functional traits, including leaf SLA and LDMC, and plant height, were measured for 145 native and 39 non‐native plant species, 663 plants, and 1,326 leaves.
Seed mixes had greater community‐weighted LDMC and lower SLA than remnants, perhaps because of human selection for high grass abundance in mixes. Established restorations had lower community‐weighted LDMC and higher SLA than remnants and seed mixes, and restorations had a large exotic species component. The proportional abundance of exotics in restorations explained trait differences between remnants and restorations. After taking into account functional groupings, perennial exotic species, on average, had higher SLA and lower LDMC than perennial native species. Remnants and established restorations had similar plant heights, and height was not significantly different between native and exotic species.
Our results indicate that seed mixes differ from remnants in a manner that was opposite of the difference between seed mixes and established restorations. Although seed mixes favored species with slower growth rate trait compositions, the species that established in restored prairies tended to have traits associated with faster growth rates. We recommend developing prairie restoration seed mixes with a greater proportion of forbs, especially those with lower LDMC and higher SLA.
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Kaul, Andrew, and Brian J. Wilsey. "Exotic species explain plant functional trait differences between seed mixes, restored and reference prairies." Applied Vegetation Science 26 (2023): e12709, which has been published in final form at doi:10.1111/avsc.12709. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.