Clustered animal burrows yield higher spatial heterogeneity

Y. Yoshihara, T. Okuro, B. Buuveibaatar, J. Undarmaa, K. Takeuchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


An understanding of the relationships between spatial heterogeneity and disturbance regime is important for establishing the mechanisms necessary to maintain biodiversity. Our objective was to examine how the configuration of disturbance by burrowing rodents (Siberian marmot) affected the spatial heterogeneity of vegetation and soil nutrient properties. We established three 2500-m2 (50 m × 50 m) isolated-burrows plots and three 2500-m2 clustered-burrows plots in a Mongolian grassland. Each plot was subdivided into 4-m2 quadrats, and the plant species richness, percent coverage, and soil nutrient properties in the quadrats were surveyed. Spatial heterogeneity was calculated for vegetation using the mean dissimilarity of species composition among sample quadrats, and geostatistical analysis was used to calculate soil properties. Heterogeneous patches of plants such as Achnatherum splendens and higher nutrient concentrations were found only near the clustered burrows. As a result, spatial heterogeneities of vegetation and soil nutrient properties were higher in the clustered colony than those in the isolated colony. The configuration of disturbance patches affected the spatial heterogeneity at the landscape level through the spatial pattern of disturbance frequency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-224
Number of pages14
JournalPlant Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Feb
Externally publishedYes


  • Disturbance regime
  • Mongolia
  • Patch configuration
  • Plant composition
  • Siberian marmot
  • Soil nutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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