Implications of local-scale productivity on compensatory growth in a semi-arid shrubland Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Grazing is a dominant determinant of aboveground net primary production (ANPP) and composition of plant communities. However, ANPP can be maintained following grazing due to compensatory growth, the level of which might depend on additional environmental factors, such as precipitation and edaphic conditions. Several studies have shown that along large-scale regional gradients, community-level compensatory ability is positively correlated with ANPP and soil resource availability. However, community-level responses to grazing are also expected to be affected by local-scale heterogeneity in ANPP, particularly under low primary productivity typical to arid environments. Here, we studied the effect of local-scale variations in ANPP on the compensatory growth of an annual community in a semi-arid region. For two consecutive years, ANPP was evaluated following shoot damage in sites with different primary productivity. The results demonstrated that annual ANPP varied significantly among sites and among plots within sites; however, compensatory ability was negatively correlated with annual ANPP, with overcompensation in the least productive patches and under-compensation in the most productive patches. This pattern contradicts the positive correlation between ANPP and compensatory ability commonly found along large-scale productivity ecoclines, suggesting that the effects of ANPP on compensatory ability might be scale-dependent.

publication date

  • January 1, 2011