Temporal species turnover and plant community changes across different habitats in the Lake Engure Nature Park, Latvia

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Simultaneous monitoring of vegetation dynamics in different ecosystems has been rarely conducted but can provide important insights into mechanisms of vegetation dynamics in relation to vegetation structure and patterns. We compared the herb layer dynamics, species turnover, and species-time relationships across different habitats in a 12-year period in the ILTER monitoring station of the Lake Engure Nature Park, Latvia. Temporal species turnover was defined as diference in species composition in a community between two times. Species-time relationships were assessed using a sliding window approach. Species richness, cumulative species richness, and diversity changed more in species-rich non-forest habitats than in forests. Species turnover was highly different among habitats, and was not associated with the stability of habitats, as reported from other studies. The species-time relationship of six habitats was much lower than that reported in the literature. This could be explained by latitudinal gradients in species diversity and temporal turnover. At higher latitudes both species diversity and turnover is lower, and the mentioned habitats represent typical boreal vegetation. Vegetation dynamics in acidic grassland, dune slack, fen, and dune forest were interpreted as fluctuations. Vegetation changes in moist forest, dry forest, and coastal grassland showed clear signs of succession (xerophytisation and overgrowing). Vegetation dynamics of the beach community exhibited features of both natural succession and anthropogenic fluctuation.

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