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How has time and space affected plant biodiversity in the Hjälmö-Lådna archipelago?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology. (Landskapsekologi)
2011 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Traditionally European farmland management has declined during the last century, mainlydue to abandonment or intensification. When traditional management is replaced by newmethods many species are negatively affected and often threatened with extinction. In thisthesis, the Stockholm archipelago is used as a platform to study the effects of land use changeover time. The overall aim is to examine how time and space affects plant biodiversity in arural landscape, with focus on heterogeneous pastures.

Historical records and maps were interpreted together with aerial photos and used to constructfour time-layers of land use: reflecting the landscape 200 years ago, 100 years ago, 50 yearsago and present. Investigations of plant species richness was conducted in seven habitats; 1)grazed fields, 2) grazed forest edges, 3) grazed forest interior, 4) former grazed fields, 5)former grazed forest edges, 6) former grazed forest interior, and 7) historical pasture islands,on 35 islands in Hjälmö-Lådna archipelago on the east-coast of Sweden. Plant speciesrichness was measured for all plant species and for grassland specialist species at three scales:i) fine-scale diversity (α div), ii) large-scale diversity (γ div ), and iii) spatial turnover (β div).Using Structural Equation Models (SEM) the variation in species diversity and plantcommunity composition was investigated in relation to landscape context, space andmanagement history.

The land use change in the Hjälmö-Lådna archipelago followed the general trends on themainland in Sweden and the rest of Europe with loss of traditional managed habitats, such asmeadows or wooded pastures. However, no intensification and large-scale agriculture hasdeveloped on the islands, mainly because of physical limitations, but also because ofeconomical and conservation reasons. Surprisingly, the grazing pressure on the remaininggrazed habitats had not changed notable over the last century; although the study area was notparticularly species rich (highest average was 15 species/ m2 in grazed fields). Adjacenthabitats; field and wood pasture, showed a higher similarity in community composition thanexpected compared to random pairs. Grazing and proportion of openness had a positiveinfluence on species richness and especially on grassland specialists. The variation of totaldiversity at the landscape scale was best explained by the heterogeneity of grazed forest edgesand the local species diversity in fields.

The results from the study suggest that grazing is important also in species-poor landscapes,and that it can aid in protecting and promote species-richness also in other types of speciespoorlandscapes. To prevent further loss of biodiversity it is necessary to keep fields andforest edges open with continuous management. To maintain values of high biodiversity andculture in the archipelago it is therefore important that farmers are subsidised by EU tocontinue to grazie heterogeneous habitats and pastures with many trees.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institutionen för naturgeografi och kvartärgeologi, Stockholms universitet , 2011. , 79 p.
National Category
Natural Sciences Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Physical Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-79230OAI: diva2:548338
2011-10-26, DeGeersalen, Geohuset, Frescati, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2012-12-22 Created: 2012-08-30 Last updated: 2014-07-09Bibliographically approved

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