Plant Ecology

, Volume 195, Issue 1, pp 55–67 | Cite as

Effects of disturbance on population biology of the rosette species Eryngium horridum Malme in grasslands in southern Brazil

  • Alessandra FidelisEmail author
  • Gerhard Overbeck
  • Valério DePatta Pillar
  • Jörg Pfadenhauer
Original Paper


The Southern Grassland biome in Brazil has long been neglected by the government and by the scientific community as well. Lack of studies about the effects of disturbance (mostly fire and grazing) on plant community and populations are the main hindrances for the future management plans, which complicates the conservation of this rich and unique biome. In this study, the population biology of a rosette species, Eryngium horridum (Apiaceae), has been investigated, in order to compare the effects of fire, grazing and abandonment. E. horridum is a very common species and many farmers consider it a nuisance. Two different areas were chosen for the study purposes: Morro Santana and the Research Center Pró-Mata. Areas under different types (fire and grazing) and disturbance histories were compared. Populations were analysed in plots of 25 m2, divided in age-state classes (seedlings, young, adult and reproductive individuals). Both morphological and phenological traits have been investigated. Fire influenced populations in a direct way, whilst grazing showed an indirect effect. Seedlings were found only in areas excluded from disturbance for 3 years on Morro Santana. Due to this, seedling establishment might be more related to environmental conditions than to disturbance regimes. Young individuals were mainly found in recently burned areas, while adult individuals were dominant in areas excluded from disturbance. Additionally, individuals from E. horridum showed a great capacity of resprouting after plant damage. Reproductive individuals also showed the capacity of producing new rosettes after the death of the inflorescence axis. This strategy is probably of great importance for the survival of populations in areas excluded from disturbance. Therefore, vegetative reproduction seemed to be the most important strategy for the maintenance and survival of its populations, allowing longer population persistence over time, even in the absence of disturbance.


Population biology Fire Grazing Rosette species Grasslands Eryngium horridum 



We would like to thank the security personnel from the UFRGS for accompanying us in the field on Morro Santana and the PUC-RS for allowing us at the Research Center Pró-Mata. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments. The study was supported by the DFG (German Research Foundation) and by CAPES (Brazil) and DAAD (Germany) under Probral. V.P. received CNPq support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alessandra Fidelis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gerhard Overbeck
    • 1
  • Valério DePatta Pillar
    • 2
  • Jörg Pfadenhauer
    • 1
  1. 1.Vegetation EcologyTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  2. 2.Laboratory of Quantitative EcologyUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil

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