Grassland connectivity by motor vehicles and grazing livestock
2013 (English)In: Ecography, ISSN 0906-7590, E-ISSN 1600-0587, Vol. 36, no 10, 1150-1157 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
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.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89133DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2013.00185.xISI: 000325114500011OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-89133DiVA: diva2:615897