Scale-dependent diversity effects of seed dispersal by a wild herbivore in fragmented grasslands
2014 (English)In: Oecologia, ISSN 0029-8549, E-ISSN 1432-1939, Vol. 175, no 1, 305-313 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Dispersal limitation between habitat fragments is a known driver of landscape-scale biodiversity loss. In Europe, agricultural intensification during the twentieth century resulted in losses of both grassland habitat and traditional grassland seed dispersal vectors such as livestock. During the same period, populations of large wild herbivores have increased in the landscape. Usually studied in woodland ecosystems, these animals are found to disperse seeds from grasslands and other open habitats. We studied endozoochorous seed dispersal by roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in fragmented grasslands and grassland remnants, comparing dispersed subcommunities of plant species to those in the established vegetation and the seed bank. A total of 652 seedlings of 67 species emerged from 219 samples of roe deer dung. This included many grassland species, and several local grassland specialists. Dispersal had potentially different effects on diversity at different spatial scales. Almost all sites received seeds of species not observed in the vegetation or seed bank at that site, suggesting that local diversity might not be dispersal limited. This pattern was less evident at the landscape scale, where fewer new species were introduced. Nonetheless, long-distance dispersal by large wild herbivores might still provide connectivity between fragmented habitats within a landscape in the areas in which they are active. Finally, as only a subset of the available species were found to disperse in space as well as time, the danger of future biodiversity loss might still exist in many isolated grassland habitats.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 175, no 1, 305-313 p.
Connectivity, Endozoochory, Landscape ecology, Long-distance dispersal, Roe deer
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-104136DOI: 10.1007/s00442-014-2897-7ISI: 000334691600028OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-104136DiVA: diva2:721637