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Validation of plant diversity indicators in semi-natural grasslands
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
2008 (English)In: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, ISSN 0167-8809, E-ISSN 1873-2305, Vol. 125, no 1-4, 65-72 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The use of plant biodiversity indicators in a nationwide survey of semi-natural grasslands in Sweden was examined by comparing results from the survey with additional in-depth studies of plant diversity at the same 30 sites in southern Sweden. Additional grasslands, that were not subjected to the nationwide survey (i.e. rejected after an initial site selection), were also investigated in order to examine the quality of the initial site selection and to assess to what extent they harboured species rich plant communities. Results showed that grasslands that were not included in the nationwide survey were generally smaller in size and that they contained significantly lower plant diversity than sites that were included by the survey. However, some indicator species, including indicators for poor management, were abundant in both types of sites. Biodiversity indicators correctly indicated both plant species richness and plant species density when using data from the in-depth study. However, by comparing indicator species found by the nationwide survey and by the in-depth study, it was shown that the survey overlooked 42% of all indicator species occurrences, which removed the significant relationship between indicator richness and total plant species richness. Furthermore, a null model showed that the chosen indicator species did not perform significantly better than species chosen at random from the available species pool. The conclusion was that validation of indicators is crucial, because even though real correlations exist between taxa or between a subset of species and overall diversity, poor precision of surveys might make these indicators useless. This also suggests that the effort put into searching for the indicator species may have to be so high, that it may be more efficient to go directly into assessing the biological values they are supposed to indicate.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 125, no 1-4, 65-72 p.
Keyword [en]
Bioindicators; Species subsets; Surrogate species; Validation; Vascular plants
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-23024DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2007.11.006ISI: 000255134500007OAI: diva2:189932
Available from: 2006-11-23 Created: 2006-11-23 Last updated: 2011-03-11Bibliographically 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.
Biodiversity, connectivity, Hygrocybe, indicators, landscape history, plants, pollen limitation, species-area effects, surrogate species
National Category
Biological Sciences
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
Available from: 2006-11-23 Created: 2006-11-23Bibliographically approved

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Öster, MathiasEriksson, Ove
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