The post provided by Wolfgang Willner (on behalf of all VCS Chief Editors)
VCS Editors’ Award 2021 goes to Iwona Dembicz and colleagues for the paper “Fine-grain beta diversity in Palaearctic open vegetation: variability within and between biomes and vegetation types”. The paper was elected by the Chief Editors from the four Editors’ Choice articles of the four quarters of the last year.
Analysing thousands of nested-plot datasets from the GrassPlot database, the authors asked whether small-scale beta diversity varies systematically between biomes and vegetation types. Using the exponent z of the power-law species-area relationship as a measure of beta diversity, they found that the explained variance increased from biomes via ecological-physiognomic vegetation types to phytosociological classes, and was higher in vascular plants than in bryophytes or lichens. Mediterranean and alpine grasslands turned out to be “hotspots” of fine-grain beta diversity. The authors also developed a conceptual model that is able to explain how a combination of different environmental and biological factors increases or decreases fine-grain beta diversity, offering the basis for concrete testing of hypotheses in the future.