We performed our study in the Dry Puna of the southern Peruvian Andes. Through a comparative approach we aimed to assess the effects of the two management systems, low grazing pressure by wild camelids vs. high grazing pressure by domestic livestock and periodic burning. Our general hypothesis was that the traditional high disturbance regime affects the dry Puna species diversity and composition through modifications of the magnitude of plant–plant-interactions and changes of the community structure due to shifts in species dominance. In 40 plots of 10 × 10 m, the cover value of each species was recorded and the species richness, floristic diversity, and community similarity of each treatment were compared. For each disturbance regime, differences of soil features (organic matter, carbon/nitrogen ratio, and potassium content) were tested. To evaluate plant–plant interactions, 4 linear transect divided into 500 plots of 10 × 10 cm were laid out and co-occurrence analysis was performed. We found that different disturbance regimes were associated with differences in the floristic composition, and that the high disturbance condition had lower species diversity and evenness. A decrease of tall species such as Festuca orthophylla and increase of dwarf and spiny Tetraglochin cristatum shrubs was observed as well. In addition, different disturbance intensities caused differences in the functional composition of the plant communities, since species with avoidance strategies are selected by high grazing pressure. High disturbance intensity was also associated to differences of soil features and to different clumped spatial structure of the dry Puna. Our results indicate also that: positive interactions are often species-specific mainly depending on the features of nurse and beneficiary species; the importance of positive interaction is higher at low grazing pressure than at high disturbance intensity; the magnitude and direction of the herbivory-mediated facilitation processes may be traced back to the grazing pressure of wild camelids.
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|Titolo:||Management type affects composition and facilitative processes in altoandine dry grassland|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2013|
|Appartiene alla tipologia:||01a Articolo in rivista|