Using 15 years of census data from permanent quadrats, this paper compared the characteristics and temporal dynamics of these two distinct, spatially coexistent but temporally segregated communities. Although the total number of summer annual species recorded during our 15 years observation was higher than winter annuals, the average number of species observed each year was higher in the winter community. The winter community exhibited lower temporal variation in total plant abundance and populations of individual species, lower species turnover rate and higher evenness than the summer community. The higher seasonal species diversity (i.e., number of species observed in each season) in winters rather than the overall special pool (over 15 yrs) may be responsible for the greater community stability of winter annuals. The difference in long-term community dynamics between the two communities of annuals plants are likely due to the differences in total species pool, life history traits (e.g., seed size), and seasonal climatic regimes.
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Long-term dynamics of winter and summer annual communities in the Chihuahuan Desert