Function of small habitat elements for enhancing plant diversity in different agricultural landscapes
2014 (English)In: Biological Conservation, ISSN 0006-3207, E-ISSN 1873-2917, Vol. 169, 206-213 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The extensive transformation of agricultural landscapes worldwide has led to a decrease in grassland species related to traditional low-intensive farming. To properly manage and protect species, habitats and ecosystems in any of these landscapes requires a better understanding of direct and indirect effects of the processes driving biodiversity decline. In this study, we investigated how small habitat elements, represented by mid-field islets and road verges, in different types of agricultural landscapes can sustain a regional species pool for plant diversity otherwise associated to semi-natural grasslands. Although semi-natural grasslands had higher total and specialist richness, we found that small habitat elements harboured relatively high plant species richness, especially in a landscape with many semi-natural grasslands left. In the most intensively managed landscape, total richness declined as distance to the nearest semi-natural grassland increased. In contrast, beta-diversity was highest in these landscapes indicating that small habitats are also negatively affected by distance to grassland. We found that species trait composition varied depending on habitat and landscape. The results confirm that fragmentation shape trait composition within plant communities, e.g. plant size, clonality, longevity, and dispersal traits. We conclude that small habitat elements increase the total area available to grassland species present in the landscape, boosting the spatio-temporal dynamics of grassland communities. Small habitat elements may hence function as refugia or stepping stone habitats, especially in intensively utilized agricultural landscapes, and should be regarded as a functional part of a semi-natural grassland network, analogous to a meta-population.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 169, 206-213 p.
Biodiversity, Fragmentation, Historical ecology, Landscape ecology, Mid-field islets, Plants, Road verges, Semi-natural grassland, Species richness, Traits
Biological Sciences Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-103327DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2013.11.015ISI: 000333574400024OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-103327DiVA: diva2:716901