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Grassland connectivity by motor vehicles and grazing livestock
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
2013 (English)In: Ecography, ISSN 0906-7590, E-ISSN 1600-0587, Vol. 36, no 10, 1150-1157 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In addition to habitat loss and fragmentation, agricultural change has led to a change in seed dispersal processes in therural landscape through a loss of structural and functional connectivity. Here, human-mediated dispersal vectors areprevalent, and we explored whether the loss of connectivity via free-ranging livestock could be mitigated by the increasein roads and motor vehicles. We found that structurally, 39% of all valuable semi-natural grassland habitats in southernSweden are adjacent to public road verges, which in the rural landscape are often considered to be suitable habitat forgrassland species. Additionally, by collecting mud attached to cars and farming machinery and manure from livestock(cattle, horse, sheep) grazing semi-natural grassland pasture, we found that motor vehicles are also capable seed dispers-ers. A similar number of species were dispersed by both vectors, although the composition of samples was quite different.Motor vehicles dispersed more grassland specialists than invasive species, although in much lower abundances than didgrazing livestock. Despite these differences, motor vehicles were found to be able to disperse species with the same kindsof dispersal traits as livestock. A high number of seeds, species and specialists in manure samples means that greater move-ment of livestock is desirable to increase functional grassland connectivity. However, effective management could improvethe suitability of roadsides as grassland corridors and increase the availability of seeds for long-distance human-mediateddispersal via cars and tractors. Our results suggest that in many rural landscapes, connectivity by road networks couldhelp mediate habitat loss and fragmentation of grasslands. However, such effects can be context dependent, and the con-nectivity provided by roads could have serious negative consequences in other regions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 36, no 10, 1150-1157 p.
National Category
Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89133DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2013.00185.xISI: 000325114500011OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-89133DiVA: diva2:615897
Funder
Formas
Available from: 2013-04-12 Created: 2013-04-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Seed mobility and connectivity in changing rural landscapes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Seed mobility and connectivity in changing rural landscapes
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The success or failure of many organisms to respond to the challenges of habitat destruction and a warming climate lies in the ability of plant species to disperse between isolated habitats or to migrate to new ranges. European semi-natural grasslands represent one of the world's most species-rich habitats at small scales, but agricultural intensification during the 20th century has meant that many plant species are left only on small fragments of former habitat. It is important that these plants can disperse, both for the maintenance of existing populations, and for the colonisation of target species to restored grasslands. This thesis investigates the ecological, geographical and historical influences on seed dispersal and connectivity in semi-natural grasslands, and the mobility of plants through time and space. Seed dispersal by human activity has played a large role in the build-up of plant communities in rural landscapes, but patterns have shifted. Livestock are the most traditional, and probably the most capable seed dispersal vector in the landscape, but other dispersal methods may also be effective. Motor vehicles disperse seeds with similar traits to those dispersed by livestock, while 39% of valuable grasslands in southern Sweden are connected by the road network. Humans are found to disperse around one-third of available grassland species, including several protected and red-listed species, indicating that humans may have been valuable seed dispersers in the past when rural populations were larger. Past activities can also affect seed mobility in time through the seed bank, as seeds of grassland plant species are shown to remain in the soil even after the grassland had been abandoned. Today however, low seed rain in intensively grazed semi-natural grasslands indicates that seed production may be a limiting factor in allowing seeds to be dispersed in space through the landscape.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, 2013. 38 p.
Series
Dissertations from the Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, ISSN 1653-7211 ; 37
Keyword
Biodiversity, Conservation, Functional connectivity, Historical ecology, Human-mediated dispersal, Invasive species, Landscape Ecology, Long-distance dispersal, Restoration, Seed bank, Seed dispersal, Seed rain, Structural connectivity
National Category
Physical Geography Ecology
Research subject
Physical Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89105 (URN)978-91-7447-692-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-06-05, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Formas, 2006-2130
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Accepted. Paper 4: In press. Paper 5: Manuscript.

Available from: 2013-05-14 Created: 2013-04-11 Last updated: 2013-05-03Bibliographically approved

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