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Land Use Change in Space and Time: implications for plant species conservation in semi-natural grasslands
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
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.
Keyword [en]
diversity, management, restoration, landscape, history, Population viability analysis, seed-sowing, Primula farinosa, Campanula rotundifolia, grazing, fragmentation, extinction risk
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-102ISBN: 91-7265-825-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-102DiVA: diva2:189215
Public defence
2004-05-07, föreläsningssalen, Botanicum, Lilla Frescativägen 5, Stockholm, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2004-04-15 Created: 2004-04-15Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Evaluating the extinction risk of a perennial herb: demographic data versus historical records
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Evaluating the extinction risk of a perennial herb: demographic data versus historical records
2002 (English)In: Conservation Biology, ISSN 0888-8892, E-ISSN 1523-1739, Vol. 16, no 3, 683-690 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Demographic information is frequently used to project the long-term extinction risk of endangered species, but the limitations of this approach have not been extensively discussed. We examined demographic data for the endangered perennial herb Primula farinosa with matrix models to assess population growth rates and extinction risks. The data came from six populations in contrasting habitats followed over a 4-year period. The results of these demographic models were compared to the results of experimental manipulations and to the actual change in occurrence of P. farinosa over a 70-year period in different habitat types. According to demographic models, all managed populations had a projected negative population growth rate and experienced a high extinction risk in 100 years, whereas unmanaged populations had increasing population sizes. In contrast, experiments and historical records suggested that continuous grazing is positively correlated with population persistence. Our results thus show that demographic studies done during a transient phase of population growth after management cessation may not capture the long-term changes. In such cases, projections of population growth rates may give misleading guidance for conservation. Short-term demographic studies are in many cases unlikely to correctly assess the survival probability of a species. We therefore argue that complementary information, such as long-term historical data or experimental manipulations of the environment, should be used whenever possible.

Keyword
primroses, endangered plants, plant populations, extinction (biology)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-22645 (URN)10.1046/j.1523-1739.2002.00509.x (DOI)
Note
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-102Available from: 2004-04-15 Created: 2004-04-15 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
2. Effects of restoration on plant species richness and composition in Scandinavian semi-natural grasslands
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Effects of restoration on plant species richness and composition in Scandinavian semi-natural grasslands
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.

Keyword
abandonment, diversity, ecological factors, grazing indicators, succession
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-22646 (URN)10.1111/j.1061-2971.2004.00334.x (DOI)
Note
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-102Available from: 2004-04-15 Created: 2004-04-15 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
3. Recreating Grasslands in Swedish Rural Landscapes: Effects of Seed Sowing and Management History
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Recreating Grasslands in Swedish Rural Landscapes: Effects of Seed Sowing and Management History
2006 (English)In: Biodiversity and Conservation, ISSN 0960-3115, E-ISSN 1572-9710, 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.

Keyword
Diversity, Grassland recreation, Grazing, Restoration, Seed sowing, Semi-natural grasslands
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-22647 (URN)10.1007/s10531-004-3508-4 (DOI)
Note
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-102Available from: 2004-04-15 Created: 2004-04-15 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
4. Plant species response to land-use change - Campanula rotundifolia, Primula veris and Rhinanthus minor
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Plant species response to land-use change - Campanula rotundifolia, Primula veris and Rhinanthus minor
2005 (English)In: Ecography, ISSN 0906-7590, E-ISSN 1600-0587, Vol. 28, no 1, 29-36 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Land use change is a crucial driver behind species loss at the landscape scale. Hence, from a conservation perspective, species response to habitat degradation or improvement of habitat quality, is important to examine. By using indicator species it may be possible to monitor long-term survival of local populations associated with land use change. In this study we examined three potential indicator (response) species for species richness and composition in Scandinavian semi-natural grassland communities: Campanula rotundifolia, Primula veris and Rhinanthus minor. With field inventories and experiments we examined their response to present land use, habitat degradation and improvement of local habitat quality. At the time scale examined, C. rotundifolia was the only species responding to both habitat degradation and improvement of habitat quality. Neither R. minor nor P. veris responded positively to habitat improvements although both responded rapidly to direct negative changes in habitat quality. Even though C. rotundifolia responded quickly to habitat degradation, it did not disappear completely from the sites. Instead, the population structure changed in terms of decreased population size and flowering frequency. It also showed an ability to form remnant populations which may increase resilience of local habitats. Although P. veris and especially R. minor responded rapidly to negative environmental changes and may be useful as early indicators of land use change, it is desirable that indicators respond to both degradation and improvement of habitat quality. Thus, C. rotundifolia is a better response species for monitoring effects of land use change and conservation measures, provided that both local and regional population dynamics are monitored over a long time period.

National Category
Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-22648 (URN)10.1111/j.0906-7590.2005.03989.x (DOI)000227143500003 ()
Note

Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-102

Available from: 2004-04-15 Created: 2004-04-15 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
5. Historical landscape connectivity affects present plant species diversity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Historical landscape connectivity affects present plant species diversity
2004 (English)In: Ecology, ISSN 0012-9658, E-ISSN 1939-9170, Vol. 85, no 7, 1840-1845 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Transformation of landscapes is considered to be one of the main drivers behind species loss, regionally and globally. Theory and empirical studies suggest that landscape structure influences species diversity in many habitats. These effects may be manifested at different spatial scales depending on species response to landscape heterogeneity. A similar, but often neglected, scaling issue concerns the temporal scale of species response to landscape change. In this study, we found time lags of 50-100 years in the response of plant species diversity to changing configuration of habitats in the landscape. When analyzing remnants of traditionally managed seminatural grasslands in Sweden, we found that species diversity was not related to present-day connectivity of the investigated sites, irrespective of spatial scale (3.1-12.5 km(2)). However, when using maps depicting landscapes 50 and 100 years ago, respectively, strong positive effects of habitat connectivity appeared, at increasing spatial scale for the older landscapes. Thus, analyses of how species diversity relates to present-day landscapes may be misleading, and future species loss may be expected even if the present landscape is maint.

Keyword
biodiversity, land-use change, land-use history, seminatural grasslands, spatial and temporal scales
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-22649 (URN)10.1890/04-0367 (DOI)
Note
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-102Available from: 2004-04-15 Created: 2004-04-15 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved

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