Species richness in Madrean mixed-grass prairies dominated by native or exotic species in southeastern Arizona was characterized at the community and point scales using ten 1-m2 quadrats nested within each of eight 1000-m2 plots. In the 1000-m2 plots average richness was significantly higher in oak savanna (OS, 121.0 species) than in exotic grassland on mesa tops (EMT, 52.0 species), whereas native grassland on mesa slopes (NMS, 92.5 species) and native grassland on mesa tops (NMT, 77.0 species) did not differ significantly in richness from OS or EMT When richness was partitioned by life form, EMT was notably poorer than other community types in species of perennial grasses, perennial herbs, and summer annuals. In the 1-m2 quadrats, OS (21.2 species), NMS (20.9 species), and NMT (20.7 species) were significantly richer than EMT (5.9 species). Cover in 1-m2 plots was significantly higher in EMT than in NMT, NMS, or OS. Species richness at the point scale showed a unimodal relation to canopy cover, with cover accounting for 30% of the variation in number of species in 1-m2 quadrats. Competitive exclusion and allelopathy have perhaps limited species richness at the point scale in exotic grassland. There was no evidence of a species-pool effect between point and community scales, but such an effect between community and landscape scales was supported. Madrean mixed-grass prairies are landscapes with high species richness in comparison to other grassland types in North America, providing a large pool of potential colonizing species at the community scale. Beta-diversity (between communities) within the landscape of the Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch was consequently high despite a relative lack of habitat diversity.
Additional publication details
Plant species richness at different scales in native and exotic grasslands in Southeastern Arizona