|Title||Interannual variability in climate effects on community assembly and ecosystem functioning in restored prairie|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2018|
|Authors||Manning, GC, Baer, SG|
Community assembly theory attempts to explain factors influencing the composition of communities, which can be governed by deterministic and/or stochastic processes. We used a sequential restoration approach to gain insights into how interannual variation in climate influences community assembly in an agriculture field restored to tallgrass prairie. Species composition and aboveground net primary production (ANPP) were followed for three years in each of three sequentially restored communities, which were established in different years, and sown with the same suite of species using the same live seeding rate for each species. There was a sequence‐by‐age interaction for sown, volunteer, and total species composition (P = 0.001), cover (P < 0.009), diversity (P < 0.024), and richness (P < 0.025). Annual net primary production had a sequence‐by‐age interaction for total, sown, and volunteer species (P < 0.05). In general, species diversity and richness increased over time. We attributed different starting compositions and trajectories in the developing composition of communities and ANPP among sequences to variation in precipitation. Sequences II and III were sown under drought conditions and became dominated by a drought‐resistant agricultural weed that corresponded with delayed establishment and lower ANPP of sown species in those sequences. This study suggests that the effects of drought on community composition vary depending on restoration year, with younger restorations exhibiting greater sensitivity to drought than those that are more established.