Plant Ecology

, Volume 136, Issue 1, pp 77–94 | Cite as

Reduced community diversity in semi-natural meadows in southern Sweden, 1965–1990

  • A.-C. Linusson
  • G. A. I. Berlin
  • E. G. A. Olsson


Two data sets, one from the 1960s and one from 1990, from continuously managed semi-natural meadows (semi-natural grasslands used for hay-cutting) in Småland, southern Sweden, were analysed to describe the vegetation and in an attempt to characterise changes that have occurred in the vegetation. Based on a classification of the data set, nine plant communities were recognised. The main vegetational differences, as revealed by an ordination, were due to variation in soil moisture, which ranged from wet to dry.

During the investigation period, the amount of hay meadow area decreased, particularly the area of wet-moist meadows. In addition, the total variation in the vegetation diminished, and three plant communities more or less disappeared. The turnover index of species in the data set was 36%, and most of the species that were lost had initially been uncommon. Lost species included rare taxa, such as Gentianella campestris and Linum catharticum, while the new species tended to be common in the region. Annual and biennial species accounted for a greater proportion of the lost taxa than did perennial species. The mean cover of species per plot and the relative abundance of graminoids per plot increased.

The recorded changes in the vegetation may be related to the increased loads of nitrogen pollutants as well as to a decrease in management intensity. The diminished area is related to changes in land-use. The meadow sites in Småland have been part of a landscape rich in grasslands, but today they have a more or less relict status. They differ from grasslands found elsewhere in Sweden and Scandinavia. In Sweden, the majority (68%) of endangered vascular plants belong to the agricultural landscape. To ensure the survival of individual species it is important to preserve all types of meadows, not only a few selected ones, since no two meadows are alike.

Community diversity Landscape changes Long-term study Management Nitrogen deposition Species change 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • A.-C. Linusson
    • 1
  • G. A. I. Berlin
    • 1
  • E. G. A. Olsson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Plant EcologyLund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.Department of Botany, Plant EcologyNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway

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