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Monday, April 9 • 4:00pm - 4:15pm
LANDSCAPE PATTERN & PROCESS: Relationships Between the Ecological Strategies of Persistent Plant Communities and Spatial Configuration of Sites Within a Landscape

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AUTHORS: Kristopher Bonefont*, Northwestern University; Jeremie Fant, Chicago Botanic Garden

ABSTRACT: The environmental consequences of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity have been studied both in natural and controlled experiments, resulting in a broad range of outcomes that are understood to contribute to the detriment of ecosystems. However, recent findings suggest that when experiments control for habitat amount, the spatial arrangement may mitigate the impacts of habitat loss. These factors may play a part in the maintenance of naturally discontinuous communities, despite having amounts thought to be insufficient for their long-term persistence. In this study, we aimed to determine the dominant plant traits that characterize community-wide responses to the spatial configuration of habitats across a naturally-fragmented landscape. We selected 38 dry prairies sites with plant community data. We extracted spatial configuration metrics at landscape extents that had moderate amounts of suitable habitat. Ten plant traits related to the persistence, dispersal, and establishment were selected to characterize the ecological response to habitat configuration. Double-inertia analysis and linear modeling were used to explore the links between the configuration and plant attributes. Results obtained by performing the analysis on a subset of species have already provided relationships between trait attributes and the configurational gradients that we believe influence them. Patch complexity and edge contrast were negatively associated with plant height and degree of habitat specialization, while habitat aggregation and patch cohesion negatively associated with clonality, pollination syndrome, and seed dormancy. Preliminary results suggest that at an intermediate level of fragmentation, the configuration of habitats acts as a filter on species attributes. Understanding how configuration structures the functional dominance of communities improves our ability to predict which species persist, while also offering us the possibility of manipulating the configurational attributes of fragmented sites for conservation purposes.

Monday April 9, 2018 4:00pm - 4:15pm CDT
Spire Parlor