Comparing the effects of continuous grazing and long term exclosure on floristic composition and plant diversity in rangeland ecosystems of Saral, Iran

Abstract

Continuous grazing as the most common land us in Kurdistan rangeland is practiced wildly. Along with continuous grazing, long term exclosure has been implemented in research site in Saral. The main objective of this study was to investigate the changes in plant diversity, floristic composition and plant groups of the major life forms in response to 40 years of continuous grazing and long terrm exclosure in Saral rangelands, Iran. This research was conducted in cold semi-arid rangeland of Baharestan located in Saral’s agricultural and natural resources station (including grazed and excluded sites). In total, six transects were sampled in both grazed and excluded sites and ten plots were randomly placed per transect to measure vegetation and plant characteristics. Sampling was carried out in late May to early June (peak biomass) in 2017. T test was used to compare the means of total plant material, and Shannon’s diversity index was used based on the total cover percentage in both grazed and exclosure sites. Our results indicated that long-term grazing exclosure significantly increased canopy covers and species richness of annuals, perennial grasses, perennial forbs and shrubs. Conversely, continuous grazing caused some species to disappear namely Ferula haussknechtii and Prangos ferulacea. There was statistically a significant difference between litter and total plant material in experimental sites (p < 0.001). Apart from palatability, exclosure increased floristic diversity by 17.8%. Our findings elucidated that exclosure in degraded vegetation is an effective strategy and management policy to recover and restore missing vegetation cover.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

References

  1. Akbarzadeh M, Moghadam MR, Jalili A, Jafari M, Arzani H (2007) Vegetation dynamic study of Kuhrang exclosure. Range Desert Res 13(4):324–336

    Google Scholar 

  2. Al-Rowaily S, El-Bana M, Al-Dujain F (2012) Changes in vegetation composition and diversity in relation to morphometry, soil and grazing on a hyper-arid watershed in the central Saudi Arabia. Catena 97:41–49

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Al-Rowaily SL, Magdy IE, Al-Bakre DA, Assaeed AM, Hegazy AK, Basharat MA (2015) Effects of open grazing and livestock exclusion on floristic composition and diversity in natural ecosystem of Western Saudi Arabia. Saudi J Biol Sci 22(4):430–437

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Amiri F, Ariapour Ali, Farai S (2008) Effects of livestock grazing on vegetation composition and soil moisture properties in Isfahan. Biol Sci 8:1289–1297

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Andrew MH, Noble IR, Lange RT, Jhonson AW (1981) The measurement of shrub forage weight: three method compared. Aust Rangel J 3:47–82

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Arzani H, Zohdi M, Fish E, Zahedi A, Nikkhah GHA, Wester D (2004) Phenolojical effects on forage quality of five grass species. J Range Manag 57:624–630 (in Persian)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bardgett RD, Wardle DA (2010) Aboveground-belowground linkages. Biotic interactions, ecosystem processes, and global change. Oxford University Press, Oxford, p 301

    Google Scholar 

  8. Baudron F, Aynalem M, Dereje T, Mekuria A (2015) Impact of farmland exclosure on the productivity and sustainability of a mixed crop-livestock system in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia. Agr Ecosyst Environ 207:109–118

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Cotroneoa MS, Jacoboa MEJ, Brassiolob RM, Golluscioac E (2018) Restoration ability of seasonal exclosures under different woodland degradation stages in semiarid Chaco rangelands of Argentina. J Arid Environ 158:28–34

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Coulloudon B, Eshelman K, Gianola J, Habich N, Hughes L, Johnson C, Pellant M, Podborny P, Rasmussen A, Robles B, Shaver P, Spehar J, Willoughby J (1999) Sampling vegetation attributes. BLM Technical Reference 1734-4, Denver, CO

  11. Czeglédi L, Radácsi (2005) Overutilization of pastures by livestock. GYEPGAZDÁLKODÁSI KÖZLEMÉNYEK

  12. Ebrahimi M, Khosrawi H, Rigi M (2016) Short-term grazing exclusion from heavy livestock rangelands affects vegetation cover and soil properties in natural ecosystems of southeastern Iran. Ecol Eng 95:10–18

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Eldridge DJ, Manuel DB, Samantha K, Travers JV, Ian O (2016) Do grazing intensity and herbivore type affect soil health? Insights from a semi-arid productivity gradient. Br Ecol Soc 3:976–985. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12834

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Gan L, Peng XH, Peth S, Horn R (2012) Effects of grazing intensity on soil water regime and flux in inner Mongolia Grassland, China. 2012. Pedosphere 22:165–177

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Habrova H, Pavlis J (2017) Dynamic response of woody vegetation on fencing protection in semi-arid areas; case study: pilot exclosure on the Firmihin Plateau, Socotra Island. Saudi J Biol Sci 24:338–346

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Hanley TA (1978) A comparison of the line-interception and quadrat estimation methods of determining shrub canopy coverage. J Range Manag 31(1):60–62

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Hein L (2006) The impacts of grazing and rainfall variability on the dynamics of a Sahelian rangeland. J Arid Environ 64:488–504

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Iran’s meteorology organization (2018) Weather forecast. http://irimo.ir/eng/index.php

  19. Kent M (2010) Vegetation description and data analysis. Wiley, UK

    Google Scholar 

  20. Li Q, Mayzlish E, Shamir I, Pen-Mouratov S, Sternberg M (2005) Impact of grazing on soil biota in a Mediterranean grassland. Land Degrad Develop 16(6):581–592

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Lu X, Kelsey KC, Yan Y, Sun J, Wang X, Cheng G, Neff J (2017) Effects of grazing on ecosystem structure and function of alpine grasslands in Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau: a synthesis. Ecosphere 8:e01656

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Merda S, Menad A, Mostephaoui T, Sakaa B (2017) Plant community structure and diversity under grazing gradient in arid Mediterranean steppe of Algeria. Metr Environ Sci 8:4329–4338

    Google Scholar 

  23. Mligo C (2006) Effects of grazing exclosure on plant species composition and plant diversity in the semi-arid rangeland of Mbulu district, Tanzania. Agric J 1(4):277–283

    Google Scholar 

  24. Mseddi Kh, AL-Shammari A, Sharif H, Mohamed CH (2016) Plant diversity and relationships with environmental factors after rangeland exclosure in arid Tunisia. Turk J Bot 40:1410–1429

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Onodi G, Miklos K, Zoltan BD, Altbacker V (2008) Grazing effects on vegetation composition and on the spread of fire on open sand grasslands. Arid Land Res Manag 22:273–285

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Osem Y, Perevolotsky A, Kigel J (2002) Grazing effect on diversity of annual plant communities in a semi-arid rangeland: interactions with small-scale spatial and temporal variation in primary productivity. Ecology 90:936–946

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Peco B, Navarro E, Carmona CP, Medina NG, Marques MJ (2017) Effects of grazing abandonment on soil multifunctionality: The role of plant functional traits. Agric Ecosys Environ 249:215–225

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Qasim S, Gol S, Shah MH, Hussain F, Ahmad S, Islam M, Rehman G, Yaqoob M, Shah SQ (2017) Influence of grazing exclosure on vegetation biomass and soil quality. Int Soil Water Conserv Res 5:62–68

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Ren H, Schönbach P, Wan H, Gierus M, Taube F (2012) Effects of grazing intensity and environmental factors on species composition and diversity in typical steppe of inner Mongolia, China. PLoS ONE 7:e52180

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Retzer V (2006) Impacts of grazing and rainfall variability on the dynamics of a Sahelian rangeland—new insights from old data. J Arid Environ 67(1):157–164

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Rong Y, Rong MY, Yuan F, Ma L (2014) Effectiveness of enclosures for restoring soils and vegetation degraded by overgrazing in the Junggar Basin. China Grassl Sci 60:118–124

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  32. Rutherford MC, Powrie LW (2013) Impacts of heavy grazing on plant species richness: a comparison across rangeland biomes of South Africa. S Afr J Bot 87:146–156

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Saedi K, Sepehri A, Pesarakli M, Gharedaghi H, Siosemarde A (2015) Effects of grazing on carbohydrate and nitrogen storage of Bromus tomentellus, Ferula haussknekhtii, Cephalaria kotschyi. Nat Resour Rangel J 449–516

  34. Sarmiento G, Pinillos M, Silva MP, Acevedo D (2004) Effects of soil water regime and grazing on vegetation diversity and production in a hyperseasonal savanna in the Apure Llanos. Venezuela, Tropical ecology, p 20

    Google Scholar 

  35. Shannon CE, Weaver W (1963) The mathematical theory of communication. The University of Illnois Press, Urbana

    Google Scholar 

  36. Taboada MA, Rubio G, Chaneton EJ (2011) Grazing impacts on soil physical, chemical, and ecological properties in forage production systems. In: Hatfield JL, Sauer TJ (eds) Soil management: building a stable base for agriculture. American Society of Agronomy and Soil Science Society of America, pp 301–320

  37. Tang J, Davy AJ, Jiang D, Musa Ala, Wu D, Wang Y, Migo Ch (2016) Effects of excluding grazing on the vegetation and soils of degraded sparse-elm grassland in the Horqin Sandy Land, China. Agric Ecosyst Environ 235:240–248

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Tilaki Dianati GhA, Naghipour Borj AA, Tavakoli H, Haidarian Aghakhani M (2010) The effects of exclosure on plantsin the semi-arid rangeland of North Khorasan province, Iran. DESERT 15:45–52

    Google Scholar 

  39. Tserenpurev B, Shinoda M, Cheng Y, Purevdorj Y (2016) Effects of grazing and precipitation variability on vegetation dynamics in a Mongolian dry steppe. J Plant Ecol 9(5):508–519

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Wiesmeier M, Kreyling O, Steffens M, Schoenbach P, Wan H, Gierus M, Taube F, Koelbl A, Koegel-Knabner I (2012) Short-term degradation of semiarid grasslands - results from a controlled-grazing experiment in Northern China. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci 175:434–442

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Yan L, Zhou G, Zhang F (2013) Effects of different grazing intensities on grassland production in China: a meta-analysis. PLoS ONE 8:e81466

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Zhang Y, Liu L, Wanqi B, Zhenxi S, Jianzhong Y, Mingjun D, Shuangcheng L, Du Z (2006) Grassland degradation in the source region of the Yellow River. Acta Geogr Sinica 61(1):3–14

    Google Scholar 

  43. Zhang C, Dong Q, Chu H, Shi J, Li S, Wang Y, Yang X (2018) Grassland community composition response to grazing intensity under different grazing regimes. Rangel Ecol Manag 14:196–204

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank Dr. Khaled Ausati for ideas and improvements to the manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to P. Karami.

Additional information

Editorial responsibility: Gobinath Ravindran.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Karami, P., Bandak, I. & Gorgin Karaji, M. Comparing the effects of continuous grazing and long term exclosure on floristic composition and plant diversity in rangeland ecosystems of Saral, Iran. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 16, 7769–7776 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13762-018-02193-3

Download citation

Keywords

  • Continuous grazing
  • Exclosure
  • Floristic composition
  • Litter
  • Canopy cover