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Size and heterogeneity rather than landscape context determine plant species richness in semi-natural grasslands
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
2007 (English)In: Journal of Vegetation Science, ISSN 1100-9233, E-ISSN 1654-1103, Vol. 18, no 6, 859-868 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Question: Is plant diversity in fragmented semi-natural grasslands related to present and historical landscape context?

Location: Southern Sweden.

Methods: Plant diversity was described at 30 semi-natural grassland sites in terms of total and specialist plant species richness at the site and species density at different scales (0.5–10 m2). These measures are commonly used to assess conservation value of semi-natural grasslands. Landscape context was measured as contemporary connectivity to other semi-natural grasslands, historical connectivity 50 years ago, amount of linear elements potentially suitable for dispersal (road verges, power line clearings), and amount of forest (inverse of the openness of the landscape).

Results: The diversity measures were generally correlated with each other, implying that species richness in a subset of the grassland can predict the total richness. Plant species density at three scales (0.5 m2, 10 m2 and total) was related to the landscape context using an information theoretic approach. Results showed that total species richness increased with increased size of grasslands, contrary to earlier diversity studies in semi-natural grasslands. Larger grasslands were more heterogeneous than smaller grasslands, and this is a likely reason for the species-area relationship. Heterogeneity was also of high importance at the smaller scales (0.5 m2, 10 m2). With increased amount of forest, total species richness increased but species density on 10 m2 decreased. There was no influence of connectivity in either the contemporary or the historical landscape, contrary to previous studies.

Conclusions: Grassland size and heterogeneity are of greater importance for plant diversity in semi-natural grassland, than grassland connectivity in the landscape.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 18, no 6, 859-868 p.
Keyword [en]
AIC, Akaike's Information Criterion, Biodiversity, Connectivity, Landscape history, Road verge, Species-area effect, Species density
National Category
Botany
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-23022DOI: 10.1111/j.1654-1103.2007.tb02602.xISI: 000250089400010OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-23022DiVA: diva2:189930
Available from: 2006-11-23 Created: 2006-11-23 Last updated: 2013-06-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Biological diversity values in semi-natural grasslands: indicators, landscape context and restoration
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Biological diversity values in semi-natural grasslands: indicators, landscape context and restoration
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Semi-natural grasslands, which are a declining and fragmented habitat in Europe, contain a high biodiversity, and are therefore of interest to conservation. This thesis examines how plant diversity is influenced by the landscape context, and how plant and fungal diversity can be targeted by practical conservation using indicator species and congruence between species groups. Reproduction and recruitment of the dioecious herb Antennaria dioica was also investigated, providing a case study on how fragmentation and habitat degradation may affect grassland plants.

Grassland size and heterogeneity were of greater importance for plant diversity in semi-natural grassland, than present or historical connectivity to other grasslands, or landscape characteristics. Larger grasslands were more heterogeneous than smaller grasslands, being the likely reason for the species-area relationship.

A detailed study on A. dioica discovered that sexual reproduction and recruitment may be hampered due to skewed sex-ratios. Sex-ratios were more skewed in small populations, suggesting that dioecious plants are likely to be particularly sensitive to reduced grassland size and fragmentation.

A study on indicators of plant species richness, used in a recent survey of remaining semi-natural grasslands in Sweden, revealed several problems. A high percentage of all indicator species were missed by the survey, removing an otherwise significant correlation between indicator species and plant species richness. Also, a null model showed that the chosen indicator species did not perform significantly better than species chosen at random from the available species pool, questioning the selection of the indicators in the survey. Diversity patterns of the threatened fungal genus Hygrocybe were not congruent with plant species richness or composition. Plants are thus a poor surrogate group for Hygrocybe fungi, and probably also for other grassland fungi. Implications from this thesis are that conservation of semi-natural grasslands should target several species groups, and that an appropriate scale for plant conservation may be local rather than regional.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Botaniska institutionen, 2006. 41 p.
Keyword
Biodiversity, connectivity, Hygrocybe, indicators, landscape history, plants, pollen limitation, species-area effects, surrogate species
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-1352 (URN)91-7155-341-X (ISBN)
Public defence
2006-12-15, föreläsningssalen, Botanicum, Lilla Frescativägen 5, Stockholm, 13:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2006-11-23 Created: 2006-11-23Bibliographically approved

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