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Succession écologique et influence de la fauche dans des communautés végétales de talus routiers en région méditerranéenne française

Abstract : The success of revegetation or ecological restauration highly depends on our knowledge of mechanisms underlying changes in composition and structure of the vegetation along the ecological succession. Natural or human-induced disturbances of varying intensity and frequency often occur simultaneously to influence vegetation temporal dynamics. However, the influence of a recurrent disturbance combined with ecological changes along plant succession remains poorly documented. Plant communities growing on road slopes are particularly appropriate to study this issue. Construction work and management history are well documented, so that the age of the vegetation and its disturbance regime by mowing can be precisely informed. Thus, road slopes plant communities represent an in situ quasi-experimental framework particularly adapted to study processes affecting community assembly along the ecological succession under the influence of a recurrent disturbance. The principal objective of this study is to characterise the successional dynamic initiated after road slope construction in the Mediterranean area, and to identify the ecological processes and environmental factors influencing this dynamic. We particularly focused on the influence of recurrent mowing on this dynamic. We studied the floristic composition and the diversity of functional traits (mainly leaf traits and flowering phenology traits) in a 70-year long chronosequence of French Mediterranean (Hérault, France) road slopes, each including both mown and unmown vegetation. The analysis of taxonomical variations between road slopes plant communities reveals a large species turnover along the ecological succession. This floristic turnover relates with functional changes within communities. These functional changes are structured by environmental filters influencing flowering synchrony within communities on one hand, and the diversity of a combination of functional traits between communities of similar age on the other hand. These environmental filters changing along the succession relate with changing soil parameters and increasing spatial heterogeneity of light and temperature conditions with canopy closure. Mowing alters floristic and functional trajectories along the succession, notably through the decrease of speed in resource-use strategy changes along the succession in mown communities compared to unmown communities. In addition, this recurrent disturbance increases taxonomic and functional diversity within communities, while it decreases taxonomic and functional turnover between communities of the same age. Finally, mowing acts as an additional environmental filter on community assembly along the succession and homogenises vegetation between communities of the same age. The conclusions of this study provide basic knowledge in ecology. It also has implications for the management of road slopes plant communities in the perspective of their revegetation after construction work. Our conclusions suggest, amongst others, that combining mown and unmown vegetation could provide habitats for a higher diversity of associated fauna. In addition, it would allow vegetation to be pleasant to road users, while still ensuring a good visibility for road safety
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  • HAL Id : tel-03138501, version 1

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Diane Bouchet. Succession écologique et influence de la fauche dans des communautés végétales de talus routiers en région méditerranéenne française. Sciences de l'environnement. Université de Montpellier (UM), FRA, 2016. Français. ⟨tel-03138501⟩

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