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Is shrub-encroached grassland a stable state in the semi-arid steppe region?
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  • Guang Hao,
  • Nan Yang,
  • Ke Dong,
  • YuJuan Xu,
  • Xinfeng Ding,
  • Xinjian Shi,
  • Lei Chen,
  • Jinlong Wang,
  • Nianxi Zhao,
  • Yubao Gao
Guang Hao
Nankai University
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Nan Yang
Nankai University
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Ke Dong
Nankai University
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YuJuan Xu
Nankai University
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Xinfeng Ding
Nankai University
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Xinjian Shi
Nankai University
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Lei Chen
Nankai University
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Jinlong Wang
Tianjin Agricultural University
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Nianxi Zhao
Nankai University
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Yubao Gao
Nankai University
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Abstract

Understanding community restoration state and the corresponding assembly mechanism is helpful to assess the restoration measures and predict community dynamics. We collected plots by shrub cover (low, medium and high) in three Caragana mircophylla shrub-encroached grasslands which were fenced since 1979, 1983, and 2003 (fencing duration) in the northern China, to explore the effect of fencing duration and shrub cover on the community restoration by vegetation investigation and phylogenetic approach. There were significant differences in community composition among different fencing duration or shrub cover treatments. Species richness in the site of fencing since 1979 or in the plots of high shrub cover was relatively higher than that in any other sites or plots. By phylogenetic analysis, functional traits were phylogenetically convergent. Based on the standardized effect sizes of mean pairwise distance (SESMPD) ranged from -1.96 to 1.96 in six out of nine plots, which suggested that stochastic processes dominated community assembly. SESMPD were lower than -1.96 in the rest three plots which indicated that competitive exclusion drove community assembly. These results indicated that the increase of fencing duration or shrub cover could enhance competitive exclusion. The present findings highlighted the importance of shrub in influencing the community composition and community assembly, supporting that shrub-encroached grassland is another stable state in the semi-arid northern China. Therefore, it is essential to distinct shrub-encroached grassland from degraded grasslands when formulating relevant conservation and management measures in the semi-arid regions.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

05 Oct 2020Submitted to Land Degradation & Development
06 Oct 2020Submission Checks Completed
06 Oct 2020Assigned to Editor
22 Oct 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
12 Nov 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
06 Jan 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Major
04 Feb 20211st Revision Received
04 Feb 2021Submission Checks Completed
04 Feb 2021Assigned to Editor
15 Feb 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
03 Mar 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
02 Apr 20212nd Revision Received
05 Apr 2021Submission Checks Completed
05 Apr 2021Assigned to Editor
16 Apr 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
19 Apr 2021Editorial Decision: Accept