Remnant grassland habitats as source communities for plant diversification in agricultural landscapes
2008 (English)In: BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION, Vol. 141, 233-240 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Lately there has been a shift in Sweden from grazing species-rich semi-natural grasslands towards grazing ex-arable fields in the modern agricultural landscape. These fields normally contain a fraction of the plant species richness compared to semi-natural grasslands. However, small remnant habitats have been suggested as important for plant species diversity and conservation as they may function as refugia for grassland specialists in fragmented and highly modified agricultural landscapes. In this study, we examined whether plant communities on small remnant habitats, i.e. midfield islets, can function as sources for grassland species to disperse out into surrounding grazed ex-fields (former arable fields). We examined species richness and grassland specialists (species favoured by grazing) and their ability to colonize fields after 5 and 11 years of grazing. The fields that had been grazed for a shorter time were fairly species-poor with few grassland specialists. A longer period of grazing had a positive effect on total and small-scale species diversity in both islets and fields. Species composition became more similar with time, and the number of grassland specialists in both habitats increased. We found that grassland specialists dispersed step-wise into the fields, and the number of grassland specialists decreased with distance from the source. Our study suggests that remnant habitats, such as midfield islets, do function as a source community for grassland specialists and enhance diversification of grassland species when grazing is introduced. For long-term conservation of plant species, incorporating small refugia into larger grazing complexes may thus enhance species richness.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 141, 233-240 p.
Dispersal, Ex-arable fields, Grassland specialists, Midfield islets, Species richness, Sweden
Environmental Sciences Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-21098DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2007.09.016ISI: 000252206900024OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-21098DiVA: diva2:187624