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Landscape history and soil properties affect grassland decline and plant species richness in rural landscapes.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
2009 (English)In: Biological Conservation, ISSN 0006-3207, E-ISSN 1873-2917, no 142, 2752-2758 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Past semi-natural grassland extent is thought to have a major influence on contemporary species richness in rural landscapes. The loss of grasslands over the last 300 years was reconstructed for 12 rural landscapes in Sweden, ranging from open modern agricultural landscapes to more forested landscapes. Old maps and aerial photographs from 1950s and today were used to reconstruct landscape patterns in four time-steps to investigate how present plant species richness relates to past grassland extent and decline in old and new grassland habitats. The relative importance of soil properties on the timing of grassland decline was assessed. Plant species occurrence was recorded in managed and abandoned grassland habitats in each landscape. Past and present grassland distribution was a major factor in determining plant species patterns found in grasslands today. All landscapes had an average of 80% grassland 300 years ago. Since then grassland has declined by 90% across all landscapes. Proportion of clay soils influenced the timing of grassland decline, where grasslands in landscapes dominated by clay soils were conversed to crop-fields more than 100 years ago. Grasslands on coarser soils declined later, primarily to forest. Landscapes with more than 10% semi-natural grassland left today had 50% higher species richness in all  rasslands, including both abandoned and new grassland. Time since major grassland decline also seems to have an effect on the landscapes’ species richness. The results show that plant species patterns in grasslands at local scales are determined by broader landscape processes which may have occurred many centuries ago.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. no 142, 2752-2758 p.
Keyword [en]
Cadastral maps, fragmentation, land use change, species diversity, time
National Category
Environmental Sciences Ecology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-30680DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2009.07.001ISI: 000270203100042OAI: diva2:273587
Available from: 2009-10-22 Created: 2009-10-22 Last updated: 2013-06-05Bibliographically approved

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