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Recreating Grasslands in Swedish Rural Landscapes: Effects of Seed Sowing and Management History
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
2006 (English)In: Biodiversity and Conservation, ISSN 0960-3115, Vol. 15, no 3, 957-969 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Recent loss of plant species richness in Swedish semi-natural grasslands has led to an increase in grassland recreation and restoration. To increase the establishment of declining species favoured by grazing and to re-establish original species richness, seed sowing has been discussed as a conservation tool. In this study, I examined to what extent seed sowing in former arable fields increases species richness and generates a species composition typical of semi-natural grasslands. Six grassland species favoured by grazing (target species) and six generalist species favoured by ceased grazing, were studied in a seed-addition experiment. Four different seed densities were used on four different grassland categories, two grazed former arable fields, one continuously grazed grassland and one abandoned grassland. Target and generalist species emerged in all grassland categories, but seedling emergence was higher in the grazed than in the abandoned grassland. Target species had higher emergence in the two grasslands with the longest grazing continuity. Seedling emergence and frequency of established plants of each target species were positively associated. The largest fraction of seeds germinated at an intermediate sowing density, 20–50 seeds/dm2, suggesting that aggregation of seeds positively affects emergence up to a certain threshold. In conclusion, artificial seed sowing may induce the recreation of typical grassland communities on former arable fields, which may be an important contribution to increase the total grassland area and species richness in the landscape.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 15, no 3, 957-969 p.
Keyword [en]
Diversity, Grassland recreation, Grazing, Restoration, Seed sowing, Semi-natural grasslands
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-22647DOI: 10.1007/s10531-004-3508-4OAI: diva2:189212
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-102Available from: 2004-04-15 Created: 2004-04-15 Last updated: 2010-01-07Bibliographically 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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