Aboveground plant community and species-specific vegetation cover from the Jena Experiment (Main Experiment, year 2013)

This data set contains information on vegetation cover, i.e. the proportion of soil surface area that is covered by different categories of plants per estimated plot area. Data was collected on the plant community level (sown plant community, weed plant community, dead plant material, and bare ground) and on the level of individual plant species in case of the sown species. Data presented here is from the Main Experiment plots of a large grassland biodiversity experiment (the Jena Experiment; see further details below). In the main experiment, 82 grassland plots of 20 x 20 m were established from a pool of 60 species belonging to four functional groups (grasses, legumes, tall and small herbs). In May 2002, varying numbers of plant species from this species pool were sown into the plots to create a gradient of plant species richness (1, 2, 4, 8, 16 and 60 species) and functional richness (1, 2, 3, 4 functional groups). Plots were maintained by bi-annual weeding and mowing. In 2013, vegetation cover was estimated twice in May and August just prior to mowing (during peak standing biomass) on all experimental plots of the Main Experiment. Cover was visually estimated in a central area of each plot 3 by 3 m in size (approximately 9 m²) using a decimal scale (Londo). Cover estimates for the individual species (and for target species + weeds + bare ground) can add up to more than 100% because the estimated categories represented a structure with potentially overlapping multiple layers. The main experiment on the field site of the Jena Experiment comprises a split-plot design in which additional treatments (e.g. no weeding allowing for invasion of other species, or application of fertilizer) have been applied to subplots along the outer margin of the plots (see Treatment description in the section “further details”). While in this dataset only data from the core area (mown and weeding of all non-sown species twice a year, no additional treatments) is reported, all potential treatments are listed as the first parameters in the data file to guarantee compatibility with other datasets that include different treatments. There are two types of missing values contained in the dataset. Empty cells represent missing values that result from the design of the experiment when the respective value does not occur and could thus not be measured. For example, in the columns of species-specific biomass cells are left blank, when the species was not sown into the respective plot. Missing values that resulted from methodological problems, sampling errors, or lost samples/data are marked with “-9999”. This dataset is part of a collection of measurements of vegetation and soil surface cover in the Jena Experiment. Similar data from other experiments (e.g. Main Experiment, Dominance Experiment; see details above), other years, or other methods quantifying related data might be available (doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.865275).

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