Plant Ecology

, Volume 214, Issue 4, pp 621–631 | Cite as

Effects of long-term management practices on grassland plant assemblages in Mediterranean cork oak silvo-pastoral systems

  • Simonetta BagellaEmail author
  • Lorenzo Salis
  • Gian Marco Marrosu
  • Ivo Rossetti
  • Stefania Fanni
  • Maria Carmela Caria
  • Pier Paolo Roggero


The assessment of the effects of long-term management practices is relevant in understanding the current patterns of plant assemblages in semi-natural ecosystems. We hypothesized that the variety of management practices across different farming systems under the same ecological conditions directly and indirectly shapes these patterns via the long-term changes induced in soil features. The aims of this paper were to evaluate the influence of two sets of variables describing long-term management practices and soil features on plant assemblages and their importance in the context of Mediterranean silvo-pastoral systems. The analysis of variance revealed that richness and grazing value were not affected at all by grazing livestock species and soil tillage frequency and that they both showed relatively high absolute values for the specific context under study. Trifolium subterraneum was a key species in contributing to grassland grazing value and habitat biodiversity. The Canonical Correspondence Analysis highlighted the influence of management practices and soil features on plant assemblage composition, which was significantly affected by grazing livestock species and stocking rate and by soil pH and K content. The Redundancy Analysis showed that soil pH and related features were in turn affected by stocking rate, supporting our hypothesis that management practices influenced plant assemblage composition directly and indirectly via their long-term effects on soil features. The results also highlighted that a systemic analytical perspective applied at a grazing system scale can be effective in addressing sustainable grassland management issues in Mediterranean silvo-pastoral systems.


Grazing systems Soil features Stocking rate Tillage Trifolium subterraneum 



This research was supported by AGRIS Sardegna and by SOILSINK ( We acknowledge the support of Giovanna Seddaiu and Stéphanie Gascón for the statistical analyses. We also acknowledge the farmers that provided the pasture management information and allowed soil and plant sampling in their fields.

Supplementary material

11258_2013_194_MOESM1_ESM.doc (149 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 149 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simonetta Bagella
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Lorenzo Salis
    • 2
  • Gian Marco Marrosu
    • 2
  • Ivo Rossetti
    • 1
  • Stefania Fanni
    • 3
  • Maria Carmela Caria
    • 1
  • Pier Paolo Roggero
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della Natura e del TerritorioUniversità di SassariSassariItaly
  2. 2. Dipartimento per la Ricerca nelle Produzioni AnimaliAGRISSassariItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento per la Ricerca nelle Produzioni VegetaliAGRISCagliariItaly
  4. 4.Dipartimento di AgrariaUniversità di SassariSassariItaly
  5. 5.Nucleo di Ricerca sulla DesertificazioneUniversità di SassariSassariItaly

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