Advertisement

Plant Ecology

, Volume 175, Issue 2, pp 217–226 | Cite as

Cattle grazing increases plant species richness of most species trait groups in mesic semi-natural grasslands

  • Juha Pykälä
Article

Abstract

The effects of cattle grazing on plant species trait groups were studied by comparing three kinds of mesic seminatural grasslands in southern Finland: old (continuously cattle grazed), new (cattle grazing restarted 3–8 years ago) and abandoned pastures (grazing terminated > 10 years ago). Two spatial scales were studied: 1 m2 and grassland patch (0.25–0.8 ha). Species richness was higher among most species trait groups in old than in abandoned pastures and showed some recovery in new pastures. More pronounced differences were found per m2 than per grassland patch. Richness of perennial and biennial plants was in order old > new > abandoned pastures both per m2 and per grassland patch, but richness of annual plants was significantly higher only per grassland patch. Grazing increased the richness of hemicryptophytes and chamaephytes and decreased that of geophytes both per m2 and per grassland patch. Richness of small and medium-sized plants was higher in grazed than in abandoned grasslands. Only richness of the tallest species (height > 80 cm) was lower in grazed grasslands. The proportion of species trait groups, in which species richness was higher in grazed than in abandoned grasslands, was higher than in previous studies. This may be due largely to the differences in the grassland type (mesic vs. dry or wet). It is proposed that species trait responses to grazing may be related to how effectively natural factors (e.g., drought, flooding) limit plant growth. In mesic grasslands natural factors limit plant growth less than in dry or wet grasslands. Because of this the number of groups of species with different species traits benefitting from grazing is higher in mesic than in dry or wet areas.

Key words

Disturbance Life form Plant height 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Austrheim G. and Eriksson O. 2001. Plant species diversity and grazing in the Scandinavian mountains - patterns and processes at different spatial scales. Ecography 24: 683–695.Google Scholar
  2. Bakker J.P. 1985. The impact of grazing on plant communities, plant populations and soil conditions on salt marshes. Vegetatio 62: 391–398.Google Scholar
  3. Bakker J.P. 1989. Nature management by grazing and cutting. Kluwer, Dordrecht, the Netherlands.Google Scholar
  4. Bakker J.P. 1998. The impact of grazing to plant communities. In: Wallis De Vries M.F., Bakker J.P. and Van Wieren S.E. (eds), Grazing and conservation management. Kluwer, Dordrecht, the Netherlands, pp. 137–184.Google Scholar
  5. Bakker J.P. and Berendse F. 1999. Constraints in the restoration of ecological diversity in grassland and heathland communities. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 14: 63–68.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Belsky A.J. 1992. Effects of grazing, competition, disturbance and fire on species composition and diversity in grassland communities. Journal of Vegetation Science 3: 187–200.Google Scholar
  7. Bullock J.M., Franklin J., Stevenson M.J., Silvertown J., Coulson S.J., Gregory S.J. and Tofts R. 2001. A plant trait analysis of responses to grazing in a long-term experiment. Journal of Applied Ecology 38: 253–267.Google Scholar
  8. Debussche M., Debussche G. and Lepart J. 2001. Changes in the vegetation of Quercus pubescens woodland after cessation of coppicing and grazing. Journal of Vegetation Science 12: 81–92.Google Scholar
  9. Díaz S., Acosta A. and Cabido M. 1992. Morphological analysis of herbaceous communities under different grazing regimes. Journal of Vegetation Science 3: 689–696.Google Scholar
  10. Díaz S., Noy-Meir I. and Cabido M. 2001. Can grazing response of herbaceous plants be predicted from simple vegetative traits. Journal of Applied Ecology 38: 497–508.Google Scholar
  11. Dupré C. and Diekmann M. 2001. Differences in species richness and life-history traits between grazed and abandoned grasslands in southern Sweden. Ecography 24: 275–286.Google Scholar
  12. Ellenberg H., Weber H.E., Düll R., Wirth V., Werner W. and Paulissen D. 1991. Zeigerwerte von Pflanzen in Mitteleuropa. Scripta Geobotanica 18: 1–248.Google Scholar
  13. Fenner M. 1978. A comparison of the abilities of colonizers and closed-turf species to establish from seed in artificial swards. Journal of Ecology 66: 953–963.Google Scholar
  14. Gibson C.W.D. and Brown V.K. 1991. The nature and rate of development of calcareous grassland in Southern Britain. Biological Conservation 58: 297–316.Google Scholar
  15. Grubb P.J. 1976. A theoretical background to the conservation of ecologically distinct groups of annuals and biennials in the chalk grassland ecosystem. Biological Conservation 10: 53–76.Google Scholar
  16. Grubb P.J. 1987. Global trends in species-richness in terrestrial vegetation: a view from the northern hemisphere.. In: Gee J.H.R. and Giller P.S. (eds), Organization of communities. Past and present. Blackwell, Oxford, UK, pp. 99–118.Google Scholar
  17. Hämet-Ahti L., Suominen J., Ulvinen T. and Uotila P. , (eds) 1998. Field flora of Finland Edn. 4.. Finnish Museum of Natural History, Botanical Museum, Helsinki, in Finnish with English summary.Google Scholar
  18. Jutila H. 1999. Effect of grazing on the vegetation of shore meadows along the Bothnian Sea, Finland. Plant Ecology 140: 77–88.Google Scholar
  19. Kahmen S., Poschlod P. and Schreiber K.F. 2002. Conservation management of calcareous grasslands. Changes in plant species composition and response of functional traits during 25 years. Biological Conservation 104: 319–328.Google Scholar
  20. Kontula T., Lehtomaa L. and Pykälä J. 2000. Land-use history, vegetation and flora in Rekijokivalley, Somero SW Finland. The Finnish Environment (in Finnish with English summary) 306: 1–91.Google Scholar
  21. Kull K. and Zobel M. 1991. High species richness in an Estonian wooded meadow. Journal of Vegetation Science 2: 711–714.Google Scholar
  22. Landsberg J., Lavorel S. and Stol J. 1999. Grazing response groups among understorey plants in arid grasslands. Journal of Vegetation Science 10: 683–696.Google Scholar
  23. Lavorel S., McIntyre S. and Grigulis K. 1999. Plant response to disturbance in a Mediterranean grassland: How many functional groups? Journal of Vegetation Science 10: 661–672.Google Scholar
  24. Lavorel S., McIntyre S., Landsberg J. and Forbes T.D.A. 1997. Plant functional classifications: from general groups to spesific groups based on response to disturbance. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 12: 474–478.Google Scholar
  25. McIntyre S. and Lavorel S. 2001. Livestock grazing in subtropical pastures: steps in the analysis of attribute response and plant functional types. Journal of Ecology 89: 209–226.Google Scholar
  26. McIntyre S., Lavorel S., Landsberg J. and Forbes T.D.A. 1999. Disturbance response in vegetation - towards a global perspective on functional traits. Journal of Vegetation Science 10: 621–630.Google Scholar
  27. McIntyre S., Lavorel S. and Tremont R.M. 1995. Plant life-history attributes: their relationship to disturbance response in herbaceous vegetation. Journal of Ecology 83: 31–44.Google Scholar
  28. Noy-Meir I., Gutman M. and Kaplan Y. 1989. Responses of Mediterranean grassland plants to grazing and protection. Journal of Ecology 77: 290–310.Google Scholar
  29. Noy-Meir I. and Oron T. 2001. Effects of grazing on geophytes in Mediterranean vegetation. Journal of Vegetation Science 12: 749–760.Google Scholar
  30. Olff H. and Ritchie M.E. 1998. Effects of herbivores on grassland plant diversity. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 13: 261–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pettit N.E., Froend R.H. and Ladd P.G. 1995. Grazing in remnant woodland vegetation: changes in species composition and life form groups. Journal of Vegetation Science 6: 121–130.Google Scholar
  32. Pykälä J. 2001. Maintaining biodiversity through traditional animal husbandry. The Finnish Environment (in Finnish with English summary) 495: 1–202.Google Scholar
  33. Pykälä J. 2003. Effects of restoration with cattle grazing on plant species composition and richness of semi-natural grasslands. Biodiversity and Conservation 12: 2211–2226.Google Scholar
  34. Rusch G. 1988. Reproductive regeneration in grazed and ungrazed limestone grassland communities on Öland. Preliminary results. Acta phytogeographica suecica 76: 113–124.Google Scholar
  35. Smith T.M., Shugart H.H. and Woodward F.I., (eds) 1997. Plant functional types: their relevance to ecosystem properties and global change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  36. Sternberg M., Gutman M., Perevolotsky A., Ungar E.D. and Kigel J. 2000. Vegetation response to grazing management in a Mediterranean herbaceous community: a functional group approach. Journal of Applied Ecology 37: 224–237.Google Scholar
  37. Trémont R.M. 1994. Life-history attributes of plants in grazed and ungrazed grasslands on the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales. Australian Journal of Botany 42: 511–530.Google Scholar
  38. Verkaar H.J., Schenkeveld A.J. and Brand J.M. 1983. On the ecology of short-lived forbs in chalk grasslands: micro-site tolerances in relation to vegetation structure. Vegetatio 52: 91–102.Google Scholar
  39. Vesk P.A. and Westoby M. 2001. Predicting species responses to grazing. Journal of Applied Ecology 38: 897–909.Google Scholar
  40. Zobel M., Suurkask M., Rosén E. and Pärtel M. 1996. The dynamics of species richness in an experimentally restored calcareous grassland. Journal of Vegetation Science 7: 203–210.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juha Pykälä
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Programme for BiodiversityFinnish Environment InstituteHelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations