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Longterm spatial dynamics of Succisa pratensis in a changing rural landscape: linking dynamical modelling with historical maps
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
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2006 (English)In: Journal of Ecology, ISSN 0022-0477, E-ISSN 1365-2745, Vol. 94, no 1, 131-143 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We attempt to explain the current distribution of a long-lived perennial plant, Succisa pratensis, in a rural landscape in southern Sweden by linking its population biology with documented changes in the landscape, using a dynamical, spatially explicit model incorporating population dynamics and spatial spreading of the plant. Changes in the landscape were inferred from historical maps (1850 and 1900) and aerial photographs (1945 and 2001).


We tested whether predictions for the current species distribution are affected by assumptions about its early 19th century distribution, to determine whether recent history and current processes are dominant, and how past landscape changes determine current distributions.


Initial conditions influence predictions of current distribution, suggesting that the current distribution still partly reflects the distribution of the species in the early 19th century. A period of 150 years is too short for Succisa to have spread extensively if dispersal parameters are given realistic values.


Simulations in which present-day land-use patterns were imposed at earlier dates showed that changes in landscape structure over the past 175 years also had a strong effect on the present-day habitat occupancy and population sizes of Succisa.


The dominant process for Succisanow is extinction from marginal habitats. It is therefore likely that the (relatively) high present-day occupation patterns are still due to much larger areas having been available in the past rather than to successful dispersal. Although the species has responded to landscape changes, there is little evidence of population sizes reaching equilibrium.


Our approach shows that the wealth of landscape information available from historical maps can be linked with data on population biology by means of dynamical models that can make predictions about species dynamics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley-Blackwell , 2006. Vol. 94, no 1, 131-143 p.
Keyword [en]
equilibrium; extinction debt; landscape manipulation experiments; land-use change; metapopulation dynamics; population biology; southern Sweden; transient dynamics
National Category
Ecology Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-25003DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2005.01063.xISI: 000234028800013OAI: diva2:198701

Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-762

Available from: 2005-11-28 Created: 2005-11-28 Last updated: 2013-06-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Local and regional dynamics of Succisa pratensis
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Local and regional dynamics of Succisa pratensis
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Land use change is considered to be one of the biggest threat to global species diversity. In Sweden, abandonment of grazing is one of the most common reasons for decline in species richness in semi-natural grasslands. Today semi-natural grasslands often occur as more or less isolated fragments. The result for species that benefits from grazing is a smaller area of suitable habitat and higher extinction risks and a lowered ability to colonize new areas. Succisa pratensis is a long-lived perennial plant that benefits from grazing and is common in Swedish semi-natural grasslands. I have assessed the performance of Succisa pratensis at various spatial and temporal scales, in a Swedish rural landscape. I performed demographic matrix modelling of populations at grazed and ungrazed sites. A regional level was then added, by incorporating data collected from a large number of populations and habitat types into the matrix models and extinction risks over 50 years were calculated. A dynamic metapopulation model was created and the regional dynamics, in terms of colonisations resulting from long distance dispersal and population extinctions were examined. The effects of management history were incorporated into the model by using historical maps. In addition, I made an analysis of the impact of management history on the distribution and performance of four grassland species, using vegetation maps from 1945 and 2001. Local dynamics of Succisa pratensis was negatively affected by abandonment of grazing. Recorded population sizes were ten times higher in grazed sites than in ungrazed. The turnover rate of the system was estimated to about one extinction or colonisation per year. Both the simulation study and the analyses of vegetation maps suggested a pronounced legacy of management history in Succisa pratensis in the study landscape. Overall, the results of this thesis demonstrate the importance of management history for species in the rural landscape.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Botaniska institutionen, 2005. 38 p.
plant ecology
National Category
Biological Sciences
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-762 (URN)91-7155-159-X (ISBN)
Public defence
2005-12-21, föreläsningssalen, Botanicum, Lilla Frescativägen 5, Stockholm, 13:00
Available from: 2005-11-28 Created: 2005-11-28Bibliographically approved

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Ehrlén, JohanCousins, Sara A OEriksson, Ove
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