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Effects of restoration on plant species richness and composition in Scandinavian semi-natural grasslands
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
2004 (English)In: Restoration Ecology, ISSN 1061-2971, E-ISSN 1526-100X, Vol. 12, no 3, 318-326 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Plant species richness in rural landscapes of northern Europe has been positively influenced by traditional management for millennia. Owing to abandonment of these practices, the number of species-rich semi-natural grasslands has decreased, and remaining habitats suffer from deterioration, fragmentation, and plant species decline. To prevent further extinctions, restoration efforts have increased during the last decades, by reintroducing grazing in former semi-natural grasslands. To assess the ecological factors that might influence the outcome of such restorations, we made a survey of semi-natural grasslands in Sweden that have been restored during the last decade. We investigated how plant species richness, species density, species composition, and abundance of 10 species that are indicators of grazing are affected by (1) the size of the restored site, (2) the time between abandonment of grazing and restoration, (3) the time elapsed since restoration, and (4) the abundance of trees and shrubs at the restored site. Only two factors, abundance of trees and shrubs and time since restoration, were positively associated with total species richness and species density per meter square at restored sites. Variation in species composition among restored sites was not related to any of the investigated factors. Species composition was relatively similar among sites, except in mesic/wet grasslands. The investigated factors had small effects on the abundance of the grazing-indicator species. Only Campanula rotundifolia responded to restoration with increasing abundance and may thus be a suitable indicator of improved habitat quality. In conclusion, positive effects on species richness may appear relatively soon after restoration, but rare, short-lived species are still absent. Therefore, remnant populations in surrounding areas may be important in fully recreating former species richness and composition.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 12, no 3, 318-326 p.
Keyword [en]
abandonment, diversity, ecological factors, grazing indicators, succession
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-22646DOI: 10.1111/j.1061-2971.2004.00334.xOAI: diva2:189211
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-102Available from: 2004-04-15 Created: 2004-04-15 Last updated: 2010-07-27Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Land Use Change in Space and Time: implications for plant species conservation in semi-natural grasslands
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Land Use Change in Space and Time: implications for plant species conservation in semi-natural grasslands
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Land use change has during the last century altered the traditional rural landscape in Sweden, resulting in a major decline in species diversity. Traditional small-scale farming, with a remarkably high small-scale species richness, has changed in favour of rationalized agriculture, and many semi-natural grasslands, i.e. traditionally managed pastures and meadows, have become abandoned. In this thesis I examine how spatio-temporal processes affect plant species in Swedish semi-natural grasslands exposed to habitat degradation as well as recovery (restoration). I also discuss how to conserve plant species associated with semi-natural grasslands.

In general, species responded slowly to habitat degradation, but quickly to improvement of habitat quality. Population viability analysis (PVA) of the grazing favoured herb Primula farinosa suggested, in contrast to historical records, that populations in abandoned grasslands performed better than populations in traditionally managed grasslands, a result questioning the accuracy of PVAs. Restoration of grasslands counteracted species richness decline and the number of species increased within seven years after restoration. It was possible to recruit grassland species in grazed former arable fields by artificial seed-sowing. This may help to speed up the natural recruitment, which often is low due to dispersal limitations in modern fragmented landscapes.

Studies at larger regional scales showed century long time-lags in the response of plant species richness to land use change. Species richness was not related to present-day connectivity of grasslands, but positive effects appeared for grassland configuration in 1950s and 1900s. Thus, making conservation guidelines based solely on present-day data may be strongly misleading and under-estimate the actual risk of species loss. To secure long-term survival of species, it is important to focus on processes associated with larger spatial scales. This may benefit natural dynamics at longer time-scales, where abandoned and restored grasslands, together with species-rich semi-natural grasslands, could become natural parts of sustainable landscape management.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Botaniska institutionen, 2004. 120 p.
diversity, management, restoration, landscape, history, Population viability analysis, seed-sowing, Primula farinosa, Campanula rotundifolia, grazing, fragmentation, extinction risk
National Category
Biological Sciences
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-102 (URN)91-7265-825-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2004-05-07, föreläsningssalen, Botanicum, Lilla Frescativägen 5, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2004-04-15 Created: 2004-04-15Bibliographically approved

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Lindborg, ReginaEriksson, Ove
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