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Exploring the effects of pasture trees on plant community patterns
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography. Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Norway.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
Number of Authors: 42019 (English)In: Journal of Vegetation Science, ISSN 1100-9233, E-ISSN 1654-1103, Vol. 30, no 5, p. 809-820Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Questions

We aim to answer three questions: (a) what are the effects of canopy shading of different tree species on seed germination of eight understorey grassland species? (b) how is plant species’ occurrence in understorey communities affected by differences in canopy cover and does that depend on tree species composition? and (c) are there mechanistic links between the effects of trees on species’ germination and their occurrence in the understorey plant community?

Location

Semi‐natural wooded pastures in the biosphere reserve Östra Vätterbranterna, southern Sweden.

Methods

In this study, we examined the germination of eight grassland plant species in a seed sowing experiment under natural conditions in the field. Seeds were sown beneath and outside the canopy of two tree species within 48 plots split up by four wooded pasture sites. We combined observed germination responses with a plant community survey to assess the effects of canopy cover in relation to tree species composition on plant community responses. We analysed these data in relation to species’ seed mass and vegetative shade tolerance.

Results

Shade‐tolerant species germinated better beneath compared to outside tree canopies, without any clear advantage of large‐seeded over small‐seeded species. As expected, species’ shade tolerance was also positively related to canopy cover within the understorey plant community. Importantly, we found strong tree species‐specific effects of canopy shading on the species’ germination response, but not on their presence within the plant community. However, optimal canopy cover conditions for germination and for the mature plants differed across grassland species and depended on tree species.

Conclusions

Our results show that different tree species play key ecosystem engineering roles in shaping wooded grassland plant community composition at the germination stage. Management practices favouring specific tree species may therefore be highly relevant for targeted biodiversity conservation of wooded semi‐natural grasslands.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 30, no 5, p. 809-820
Keywords [en]
canopy cover, field experiment, germination, grassland, management, pasture, seed sowing, tree
National Category
Biological Sciences Agricultural Science, Forestry and Fisheries
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-175885DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12771ISI: 000487881200004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-175885DiVA, id: diva2:1374536
Available from: 2019-12-02 Created: 2019-12-02 Last updated: 2019-12-02Bibliographically approved

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Jakobsson, SimonPlue, JanCousins, Sara A. O.Lindborg, Regina
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