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Question: This study analysed the effect of severe soil erosion on species composition of plant communities by favouring species showing certain growth forms, root-sprouting and clonal growth abilities. Location: The study area was located between the middle Ebro Valley and the Pre-Pyrenees (northeastern Spain). Methods: Root-sprouting and shoot-rooting abilities, clonal reproduction and growth form were assessed for the 123 most common plant species from eroded lands in the study area. We obtained 260 vegetation relevés in three different substrata (gypsum outcrops, Miocene clays and Eocene marls) on areas with different degrees of soil erosion. The frequency of every plant trait in each relevé was estimated according to species presence. The effect of soil erosion on the frequency of plant attributes was assessed by correlation analyses. Results: Bipolar, non-clonal plants and annual species decreased their frequency with increasing soil erosion in the three substrata analyzed, whereas root-sprouters and woody plants (mostly sub-shrubs) increased their frequency in most of the substrata analysed. Conclusions: Woody sub-shrubs, root-sprouters and clonal species are favoured in eroded lands in NE Spain. Bipolar species and annual plants might not be plastic enough to survive the high stress and frequent disturbances prevailing in such eroded areas.
The Journal of Vegetation Science publishes original articles, short notes and review articles in the field of vegetation science, both methodological and theoretical studies, and descriptive and experimental studies of plant communities and plant populations. The Journal is the Official Organ of the International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS).