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ABSTRACT: The effects of disturbance by trampling and vegetation removal on herbaceous communities and their micro-environments were examined at two sites with different levels of shade. The dominant species of the original vegetation were the perennial herb Artemisia princeps at the sunny site and the dwarf-bamboo Pleioblastus chino at the shady site. With no disturbance and marked dominance of these species, diversity was low. After vegetation removal there was a rapid recovery, leading to a more diverse vegetation with many more species, each with a lower dominance. Continuous trampling induced a short vegetation while the light intensity under the foliage was increased. At the sunny site, species richness was depressed by trampling because the soil water potential decreased markedly during summer and only the stress-tolerant annual Digitaria adscendens grew vigorously. Thus, the lowest species diversity was observed in the heavily trampled vegetation in late summer. At the shady site, soil water availability was not affected by trampling. This allowed the survival of many species and prevented a strong decline in diversity.The results suggest that the pattern of change in diversity in communities subjected to various disturbances, was always determined by the original environments.
Journal of Vegetation Science 02/1997; 8(6):873 - 880. · 2.82 Impact Factor