Distribution by Scientific Domains
Distribution within Life Sciences

Kinds of Grasslands

  • alpine grassland
  • annual grassland
  • c4 grassland
  • calcareous grassland
  • california annual grassland
  • chalk grassland
  • degraded grassland
  • dominated grassland
  • dry grassland
  • floodplain grassland
  • grazed grassland
  • managed grassland
  • mediterranean grassland
  • mesic grassland
  • mesotrophic grassland
  • mountain grassland
  • native grassland
  • natural grassland
  • open grassland
  • perennial grassland
  • permanent grassland
  • productive grassland
  • semi-arid grassland
  • semi-natural grassland
  • species-rich grassland
  • temperate grassland
  • upland grassland
  • wet grassland

  • Terms modified by Grasslands

  • grassland area
  • grassland community
  • grassland composition
  • grassland degradation
  • grassland ecosystem
  • grassland fragment
  • grassland habitat
  • grassland management
  • grassland plant
  • grassland plant community
  • grassland plot
  • grassland restoration
  • grassland site
  • grassland soil
  • grassland species
  • grassland system
  • grassland type
  • grassland vegetation

  • Selected Abstracts

    Ecohydrology of a seasonal wetland in the Rift Valley: ecological characterization of Lake Solai

    Tanguy De Bock
    Abstract The following research describes through an ecohydrological approach, the first assessment of the ecology of Lake Solai, with a particular emphasis on the vegetation. Lake Solai is located 50 km north of Nakuru in the Rift Valley in Kenya at E36°80,,36°84, to N00°05,,00°08,. It is a shallow lake that follows a very peculiar seasonal water regime, and that faces conflicts between agriculture and conservation water users. In the upper catchment, an overview of the agricultural practices was implemented and river water uses were identified to assess river flows. Crops/grassland and woodland/shrubland were the major land uses, covering c. 65% of the catchment. Closer to the lake, vegetation samples were collected around the lake together with samples of environmental factors such as soil and water quality. Thirteen vegetation communities were identified within four main zonations: forest, grassland, river inlet and rocky outcrop. These communities showed abundance, distribution and diversity determined mostly by the human pressures, the flooding periods and the salinity. Cynodon, Cyperus and Sporobolus genera were the most abundant. Résumé La recherche suivante décrit, par une approche éco-hydrologique, la première évaluation de l'écologie du lac Solai, en insistant particulièrement sur la végétation. Le lac Solai est situéà 50 km au nord de Nakuru, dans la vallée du Rift kényane, et ses coordonnées sont 36°80,,36°84E à 00°05,,00°08,N. C'est un lac peu profond qui est soumis à un régime hydrique saisonnier très particulier et qui est confrontéà des conflits entre acteurs agricoles et de conservation de la nature. En amont du bassin, une étude des pratiques agricoles a été effectuée, puis les utilisations de l'eau identifiées pour évaluer les débits des rivières. Les cultures/prairies et les forêts/broussailles étaient les principales utilisations des terres et couvraient environ 65% du bassin versant. Plus en aval, des échantillons de végétation ont été récoltés le long du lac, en même temps que des échantillons de facteurs environnementaux tels que le sol et l'eau. Treize communautés végétales ont été identifiées au sein de quatre zones principales: forêt, prairie, rivière entrante et affleurement rocheux. Ces communautés présentaient une abondance, une distribution et une diversité qui étaient principalement déterminées par les pressions humaines, les périodes d'inondation et la salinité. Les genres Cynodon, Cyperus et Sporobolusétaient les plus abondants. [source]

    C3,C4 composition and prior carbon dioxide treatment regulate the response of grassland carbon and water fluxes to carbon dioxide

    FUNCTIONAL ECOLOGY, Issue 1 2007
    H. W. POLLEY
    Summary 1Plants usually respond to carbon dioxide (CO2) enrichment by increasing photosynthesis and reducing transpiration, but these initial responses to CO2 may not be sustained. 2During May, July and October 2000, we measured the effects of temporarily increasing or decreasing CO2 concentration by 150,200 µmol mol,1 on daytime net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) and water flux (evapotranspiration, ET) of C3,C4 grassland in central Texas, USA that had been exposed for three growing seasons to a CO2 gradient from 200 to 560 µmol mol,1. Grassland grown at subambient CO2 (< 365 µmol mol,1) was exposed for 2 days to an elevated CO2 gradient (> 365 µmol mol,1). Grassland grown at elevated CO2 was exposed for 2 days to a subambient gradient. Our objective was to determine whether growth CO2 affected the amount by which grassland NEE and ET responded to CO2 switching (sensitivity to CO2). 3The NEE per unit of leaf area was greater (16,20%) and ET was smaller (9,20%), on average, at the higher CO2 concentration during CO2 switching in May and July. The amount by which NEE increased at the higher CO2 level was smaller at elevated than subambient growth concentrations on both dates, but relationships between NEE response and growth CO2 were weak. Conversely, the effect of temporary CO2 change on ET did not depend on growth CO2. 4The ratio of NEE at high CO2 to NEE at low CO2 during CO2 change in July increased from 1·0 to 1·26 as the contribution of C3 cover to total cover increased from 26% to 96%. Conversely, in May, temporary CO2 enrichment reduced ET more in C4 - than C3 -dominated grassland. 5For this mesic grassland, sensitivity of NEE and ET to brief change in CO2 depended as much on the C3,C4 composition of vegetation as on physiological adjustments related to prior CO2 exposure. [source]

    The grassland farming system and sustainable agricultural development in China

    GRASSLAND SCIENCE, Issue 1 2005
    Zhibiao Nan
    Abstract Grassland is the largest terrestrial ecosystem in China, at about 39 280 × 104 ha and covers 41% of the total land area. Grasslands not only provide forage to feed livestock, but also play a critical role in alleviating many of the most challenging environmental and ecological problems that humankind is facing. About 90% of the total usable grassland in China has been degraded to various extents and this is the number one problem facing agricultural production, rural development and environmental improvement. Research on grassland degradation has been carried out since the early 1950s. Enormous achievements have been made and theory and a technical system for pastoral agriculture have been developed. This pastoral agriculture system is a well-organized modern farming system including four production levels, that is, preplant, plant, animal and postbiotic levels, and is linked by three interfaces, including vegetation-site, grassland-animal and production-management. The system capacity and productivity could be improved by system coupling. Since it emerged, this pastoral agriculture system has been established in various ecological regions in China and significant improvements in agricultural sustainability, farmer's income and environmental stability have been obtained. In the future, it will play a more critical role in developing sustainable agriculture in China. [source]

    Late-glacial and Holocene palaeovegetation zonal reconstruction for central and north-central North America

    W. L Strong
    Abstract Aim, The purpose of this study is to develop palaeovegetation zonation models for central and north-central North America, based on late-Quaternary and Holocene pollen stratigraphic data (n = 246 sites). A secondary purpose was to evaluate an hypothesis (Strong & Hills, 2003) to explain the disjunct distribution of species in western Alberta. Location, Hudson Bay-Lake Michigan to the Rocky Mountains region, north of 36° N to the Arctic Ocean (c. 70° N). Methods, Pollen profiles spanning 40 years of palaeoecological research in North America were extracted from published and unpublished archival sources. Individual profiles were subdivided into 1000-year increments based on the assumption of a constant sedimentation rate between stratigraphic dates (e.g. surface sediments, radiocarbon 14C dates, tephra layers). The pollen composition among profiles was standardized to 54 commonly recognized taxa, with percentage composition within each stratigraphic sample prorated to 100% prior to analysis. Near-surface sediments from these profiles were included as analogues of modern vegetation. Cluster analysis was used as a guide to the classification of 2356 temporal stratigraphic samples, which resulted in the recognition of 16 pollen groups. These groups were summarized in terms of their pollen composition, mapped, and used in combination with terrain information and an ecological knowledge of the study area to construct six physiognomically-based palaeovegetation zonation models at 2000-year intervals from 14,000 to 4000 yr bp (radiocarbon years before present). Results, The 14,000 yr bp model placed Boreal and Cordilleran Forests proximal to the southern glacial front, whereas Arctic tundra dominated the Yukon Territory,Alaska ice-free zone. Pollen and macrofossil evidence suggests that this Boreal Forest zone contained a mixture of coniferous and deciduous tree species. Grassland was postulated immediately south of the forest zone, with its northern extreme near 49° N latitude in the Alberta,Montana border area. Separation of the Laurentide and Cordilleran glacial fronts about 12,000 yr bp initiated the northward advance of Boreal Forests into western Canada. By the end of the Hypsithermal at about 6000 yr bp, Boreal Forests occurred near the Arctic Ocean, and Grassland and Aspen Parkland zones may have extended to 54° N and 59° N latitude in Alberta, respectively. Between 6000 and 4000 yr bp, a 5° and 1° latitudinal southward shift of the northern Boreal Forest and Grassland/Aspen Parkland boundaries occurred, respectively, near their contemporary positions with corresponding expansions of the Subarctic and Arctic zones. Modern Canadian Cordilleran Forests along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains were interpreted as originating from the north-central Montana,south-western Alberta area. Jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.), a common Boreal Forest species, appears to have entered central Canada via the north side of Lake Superior after 11,000 yr bp. Main conclusions, Modern vegetation in central Canada evolved from biomes located in the northern USA during the late-Quaternary. The Boreal Forest biome contained the same arboreal taxa as the modern vegetation, except it lacked jack pine. The proposed regional palaeovegetation models support the hypothesis of Strong & Hills (2003), but new independent palaeoecological data will be needed for a proper evaluation. [source]

    Factors affecting the invasion success of Senecio inaequidens and S. pterophorus in Mediterranean plant communities

    L. Caño
    Abstract Question: Plant invasions result from complex interactions between species traits, community characteristics and environmental variations. We examined the effect of these interactions on the invasion potential of two invasive Senecio species, S. inaequidens and S. pterophorus, across three Mediterranean plant communities in a natural park. Location: Catalonia, NE Spain. Methods: We carried out two series of experimental seedling transplantations, in the spring and fall of 2003, in grassland, shrubland and Quercus ilex forest. Competition with neighbouring plants and water availability were manipulated. We evaluated the survival, growth and reproduction with respect to each treatment combination. Results: Any habitat can be colonised if disturbance occurs. In the absence of disturbance, shrubland enhanced the survival of seedlings. Competition with resident vegetation dramatically reduced survival in grassland and forest when establishment occurred in the spring. However, establishment in the fall promoted invasion in grassland and shrubland, even in the undisturbed treatment. Grassland allowed the highest growth and reproductive performance of both species while forest was the most resistant habitat to invasion. S. inaequidens had a higher growth rate and a shorter pre-reproductive period than S. pterophorus. S. pterophorus produced more biomass and was more dependent on water availability than S. inaequidens. Conclusions: In the light of our results, we recommend surveying open shrublands and grasslands after periods of rainfall. Special attention should be paid to S. pterophorus, which is currently spreading. A preliminary assessment of the invasive-ness of this plant is given in this study. [source]

    Using farmers' knowledge for defining criteria for land qualities in biophysical land evaluation

    I. Messing
    Abstract The objective of this paper is to present a way of complementing empirical results with farmers' perceptions in defining limiting biophysical land properties in a land suitability evaluation using the FAO framework methodology. The farmers' perceptions were identified using rapid and participatory rural appraisal (RRA/PRA) tools. The study catchment, having a semiarid continental climate and located on the Loess Plateau in northern China, covered an area of 3.5 km2. Most of the land users were dependent on subsistence agriculture. There were important topographic variations in the catchment and arable cropping on steep slopes brought about degradation of land due to water erosion. The biophysical monitoring, soil survey and RRA/PRA survey, carried out one year prior to the present investigation, supplied the data needed for identification of preliminary limiting land properties and land evaluation units. The land properties that needed further investigation in the present study were slope aspect, soil workability, flooding hazard and farmers' criteria on choice of land-use type. The farmers were able to give a comprehensive picture of the spatial and temporal variation and the importance for land-use options of the land properties concerned, and thereby complement the information gained from empirical results (measurements). In order to guarantee good production for dry as well as wet years, both south- and north-facing sites were chosen for most crops, and the slope aspect did not need to be differentiated in the final land suitability evaluation for arable crops. Grassland, however, was considered to be more suitable than woodland on south-facing sites. Hard soil layers were found to be important, since they affected soil workability and erosion negatively, giving slightly reduced suitability for the land units in which they occurred. Flooding events affecting crops on alluvial soils negatively were considered to occur once every 5 to 10 years, which is considered to be a low rate, so this property was therefore not included in the final suitability evaluation. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

    Effects of Prescribed Fire and Season of Burn on Recruitment of the Invasive Exotic Plant, Potentilla recta, in a Semiarid Grassland

    Peter Lesica
    Abstract Prescribed fire is often used to restore grassland systems to presettlement conditions; however, fire also has the potential to facilitate the invasion of exotic plants. Managers of wildlands and nature reserves must decide whether and how to apply prescribed burning to the best advantage in the face of this dilemma. Herbicide is also used to control exotic plants, but interactions between fire and herbicides have not been well studied. Potentilla recta is an exotic plant invading Dancing Prairie Preserve in northwest Montana. We used a complete factorial design with all combinations of spring burn, fall burn, no burn, picloram herbicide, and no herbicide to determine the effects of fire, season of burn, and their interaction with herbicide on the recruitment and population growth of P. recta over a 5-year period. Recruitment of P. recta was higher in burn plots compared with controls the first year after the fire, but this did not lead to significant population growth in subsequent years, possibly due to drier than normal conditions that occurred most years of the study. Effect of season of burn was variable among years but was higher in fall compared with spring burn plots across all years. Herbicide effectively eliminated P. recta from sample plots for 3,5 years. By the end of the study density of P. recta was greater in herbicide plots that were burned than those that were not. Results suggest that prescribed fire will enhance germination of P. recta, but this will not always lead to increased population growth. Prescribed fire may reduce the long-term efficacy of herbicide applied to control P. recta and will be most beneficial at Dancing Prairie when conducted in the spring rather than the fall. Results of prescribed fire on exotic plant invasions in semiarid environments will be difficult to predict because they are strongly dependent on stochastic climatic events. [source]

    Is grass biomethane a sustainable transport biofuel?

    Nicholas E. Korres
    Abstract Grassland is a beneficial landscape for numerous reasons including potential to sequester carbon in the soil. Cross compliance dictates that grassland should not be converted to arable land; this is particularly interesting in Ireland where 91% of agricultural land is under grass. Biogas generated from grass and further upgraded to biomethane has been shown to offer a better energy balance than first-generation liquid biofuels indigenous to Europe. The essential question is whether the gaseous biofuel meets the EU sustainability criteria of 60% greenhouse gas emission savings. The base-case scenario investigated included: utilization of electricity from the grid; over-sizing heated digestion tanks to hold digestate in the winter period; vehicular efficiency 82% of that of a diesel vehicle; and no allowance for carbon sequestration. The analysis of the base case showed a reduction in emissions of 21.5%. However by varying the system, using electricity from wind, improving digester configuration, and by using a vehicle optimized for gaseous fuel, a reduction of 54% was evaluated. Furthermore allowing for 0.6 t carbon sequestration per hectare per annum the reduction increased to 75%. Copyright © 2010 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd [source]

    The influence of plant cover and land use on slope,channel decoupling in a foothill catchment: a case study from the Carpathian Foothills, southern Poland

    Jolanta, chowicz
    Abstract This paper examines the influence of plant cover and land use on slope,channel decoupling in the Stara Rzeka Stream catchment (22·4 km2) and its subcatchment Dworski Potok Stream (0·3 km2). The Stara Rzeka catchment is situated in the marginal part of the Carpathian Foothills and is characterized by a relief of low and medium hills. The catchment is used for agriculture but unlike other foothill catchments, it has a relatively extensive unfragmented area of forests (41·3 per cent). Grasslands and pastures (13·8 per cent) are mainly along the broad and flat valley floor. In the cultivated area (38·5 per cent) of the northern low hill part of the catchment, the fields are long, narrow and separated by boundary strips. They stretch from the hilltops to the valley bottom and are traditionally ploughed along the slopes. The research into slope wash was carried out at six sites downslope (August 1989 to October 1990) and on experimental plots (1989,1991). Transport of suspended matter was determined in the channels of the Stara Rzeka and Dworski Potok Streams (1987,1991). The results show that transport and export of the material on the slopes depend on the morphology of the slope and on the agricultural use of the area. The mosaic of fields which are used differently makes the soil wash process very intensive only if the slopes are ploughed and unprotected by a dense cover of vegetation. The material displaced is mostly accumulated at the foot of the slopes or at the bottom of the valley. Footslope areas and flat valley bottoms covered with grass function as a barrier separating the slope and the river bed. These features generally negate the transfer of slope-originated material to the bed of the stream. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

    Tradeoffs and thresholds in the effects of nitrogen addition on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: evidence from inner Mongolia Grasslands

    Abstract Nitrogen (N) deposition is widely considered an environmental problem that leads to biodiversity loss and reduced ecosystem resilience; but, N fertilization has also been used as a management tool for enhancing primary production and ground cover, thereby promoting the restoration of degraded lands. However, empirical evaluation of these contrasting impacts is lacking. We tested the dual effects of N enrichment on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning at different organizational levels (i.e., plant species, functional groups, and community) by adding N at 0, 1.75, 5.25, 10.5, 17.5, and 28.0 g N m,2 yr,1 for four years in two contrasting field sites in Inner Mongolia: an undisturbed mature grassland and a nearby degraded grassland of the same type. N addition had both quantitatively and qualitatively different effects on the two communities. In the mature community, N addition led to a large reduction in species richness, accompanied by increased dominance of early successional annuals and loss of perennial grasses and forbs at all N input rates. In the degraded community, however, N addition increased the productivity and dominance of perennial rhizomatous grasses, with only a slight reduction in species richness and no significant change in annual abundance. The mature grassland was much more sensitive to N-induced changes in community structure, likely as a result of higher soil moisture accentuating limitation by N alone. Our findings suggest that the critical threshold for N-induced species loss to mature Eurasian grasslands is below 1.75 g N m,2 yr,1, and that changes in aboveground biomass, species richness, and plant functional group composition to both mature and degraded ecosystems saturate at N addition rates of approximately 10.5 g N m,2 yr,1. This work highlights the tradeoffs that exist in assessing the total impact of N deposition on ecosystem function. [source]

    Impact of past and present land-management on the C-balance of a grassland in the Swiss Alps

    GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY, Issue 11 2008
    Abstract Grasslands cover about 40% of the ice-free global terrestrial surface, but their quantitative importance in global carbon exchange with the atmosphere is still highly uncertain, and thus their potential for carbon sequestration remains speculative. Here, we report on CO2 exchange of an extensively used mountain hay meadow and pasture in the Swiss pre-Alps on high-organic soils (7,45% C by mass) over a 3-year period (18 May 2002,20 September 2005), including the European summer 2003 heat-wave period. During all 3 years, the ecosystem was a net source of CO2 (116,256 g C m,2 yr,1). Harvests and grazing cows (mostly via C export in milk) further increased these C losses, which were estimated at 355 g C m,2 yr,1 during 2003 (95% confidence interval 257,454 g C m,2 yr,1). Although annual carbon losses varied considerably among years, the CO2 budget during summer 2003 was not very different from the other two summers. However, and much more importantly, the winter that followed the warm summer of 2003 observed a significantly higher carbon loss when there was snow (133±6 g C m,2) than under comparable conditions during the other two winters (73±5 and 70±4 g C m,2, respectively). The continued annual C losses can most likely be attributed to the long-term effects of drainage and peat exploitation that began 119 years ago, with the last significant drainage activities during the Second World War around 1940. The most realistic estimate based on depth profiles of ash content after combustion suggests that there is an 500,910 g C m,2 yr,1 loss associated with the decomposition of organic matter. Our results clearly suggest that putting efforts into preserving still existing carbon stocks may be more successful than attempts to increase sequestration rates in such high-organic mountain grassland soils. [source]

    Grasslands of the White Carpathian Mountains (Louky Bílých Karpat)

    GRASS & FORAGE SCIENCE, Issue 1 2010
    Alan Hopkins
    No abstract is available for this article. [source]

    Grasslands: developments, opportunities, perspectives

    GRASS & FORAGE SCIENCE, Issue 2 2006
    A. Hopkins
    No abstract is available for this article. [source]

    Grasslands of the world

    GRASS & FORAGE SCIENCE, Issue 2 2006
    L. 't Mannetje
    No abstract is available for this article. [source]

    The grassland farming system and sustainable agricultural development in China

    GRASSLAND SCIENCE, Issue 1 2005
    Zhibiao Nan
    Abstract Grassland is the largest terrestrial ecosystem in China, at about 39 280 × 104 ha and covers 41% of the total land area. Grasslands not only provide forage to feed livestock, but also play a critical role in alleviating many of the most challenging environmental and ecological problems that humankind is facing. About 90% of the total usable grassland in China has been degraded to various extents and this is the number one problem facing agricultural production, rural development and environmental improvement. Research on grassland degradation has been carried out since the early 1950s. Enormous achievements have been made and theory and a technical system for pastoral agriculture have been developed. This pastoral agriculture system is a well-organized modern farming system including four production levels, that is, preplant, plant, animal and postbiotic levels, and is linked by three interfaces, including vegetation-site, grassland-animal and production-management. The system capacity and productivity could be improved by system coupling. Since it emerged, this pastoral agriculture system has been established in various ecological regions in China and significant improvements in agricultural sustainability, farmer's income and environmental stability have been obtained. In the future, it will play a more critical role in developing sustainable agriculture in China. [source]

    Effects of Grazing on Bituminaria bituminosa (L) Stirton: A Potential Forage Crop in Mediterranean Grasslands

    M. Sternberg
    Abstract Plant traits of Bituminaria bituminosa, as affected by different intensities of cattle grazing, were studied in a Mediterranean grassland in Israel. B. bituminosa is a widespread Mediterranean perennial legume species that may potentially serve as a fodder crop in Mediterranean grasslands. The aims of the present study were: (i) to evaluate the responses of B. bituminosa to different cattle grazing intensities; (ii) to study functional traits associated with grazing tolerance; and (iii) to evaluate its potential as an alternative forage crop in the region. A total of 100 B. bituminosa plants were monitored in field conditions. During the growing season each individual was sampled five times and the following plant traits were monitored each time: (i) aboveground biomass production, (ii) plant height, (iii) specific leaf area (SLA), (iv) number of flowers, (v) seed mass and size, (vi) tannin concentration in leaves, (vii) total nitrogen in leaves, (viii) fibre concentration in leaves (Neutral Detergent Fiber), and (ix) in vitro dry matter digestibility. The results showed that grazing intensity and history of grazing affected B. bituminosa performance. Plant biomass, height, and flower and seed production were all reduced when plants were exposed to cattle grazing. However, under moderate grazing intensities, its plant cover remained relatively stable indicating a potential tolerance under this stocking rate. The nutritious characteristics of B. bituminosa leaves were good, and the condensed tannins concentration found indicated favourable conditions for digestion. Moreover, the in vitro digestibility studies indicated relatively high values (46,51 %) of digestion. B. bituminosa may be considered as a potential crop for cattle feeding in Mediterranean grasslands. Growing this plant in dense stands in rotational paddocks may provide alternative sources of natural fodder protein, reducing the potential costs of artificial feed supplements. [source]

    Influence of land use on plant community composition and diversity in Highland Sourveld grassland in the southern Drakensberg, South Africa

    T. G. O'CONNOR
    Summary 1Biodiversity conservation of grasslands in the face of transformation and global climate change will depend mainly on rangelands because of insufficient conservation areas in regions suited to agriculture. Transformed vegetation (pastures, crops and plantations) is not expected to conserve much biodiversity. This study examined the impact of land use on the plant diversity and community composition of the southern Drakensberg grasslands in South Africa, which are threatened with complete transformation to pastures, crops and plantations. 2The main land uses in this high rainfall region are: ranching or dairy production under private tenure using indigenous grassland, pastures (Eragrostis curvula, kikuyu and ryegrass) and maize; plantation forestry; communal tenure (maize and rangelands); and conservation. 3Plant diversity and composition were assessed using Whittaker plots. Transformed cover types were depauperate in species and ranged from kikuyu (1·4 species m,2) and ryegrass (2·9), to pine plantation (3·1), E. curvula pasture (3·1), commercial maize (3·2) and communal maize (7·8). With the exception of pine plantations, these communities supported mostly exotic (50 of 70 species) or ruderal indigenous species and made little contribution to plant species conservation. Abandoned communal cropland reverted to an indigenous grassland almost devoid of exotic species within c. 20 years. 4It was predicted that frequently cultivated sites (maize and ryegrass) would support less diversity than long-lived pastures (kikuyu and E. curvula). This was contradicted by the relatively high species diversity of communal maize fields, which was attributed to a lack of herbicides, and the depauperate communities of kikuyu and of E. curvula pasture, which were attributed, respectively, to a dense growth form and a severe mowing regime. 5Pine plantations harboured fourfold more indigenous species per plot (27) than other transformed types. Species were mostly shade-tolerant grassland relics that had persisted for 12 years since planting, and some forest colonizers. Indigenous species were unlikely to be maintained because of aggressive invasion by the exotic Rubus cuneifolius and severe disturbance associated with tree harvest and replanting. 6The richness of indigenous grasslands was expected to differ in response to grazing pressure but they differed only in composition. Grasslands were dominated by grasses, despite the richness of herbaceous species. The dominance of Themeda triandra was reduced under livestock grazing in favour of more grazing-tolerant species. Exotic species were inconspicuous except for the dicotyledon Richardia brasiliensis, a subdominant under communal grazing. 7Southern Drakensberg grasslands are probably now stocked with livestock six- to 35-fold higher than during pre-settlement times. A grassland protected for c. 50 years supported twofold greater richness (101 species plot,1) than grazed grasslands, suggesting that a 150-year history of increased mammalian grazing had already reduced plant diversity. 8Synthesis and applications. Land acquisition is costly, thus conservation of plant diversity in the southern Drakensberg requires a policy that inhibits transformation of rangelands. This can be achieved by enhancing their economic viability without changing the vegetation composition. Their inherent value must be recognized, such as for water production. The viability of commercial ranches can be improved by increasing their size. Conservation efforts need to be focused on plant taxa that only occur on unprotected rangelands. [source]

    Grasslands, grazing and biodiversity: editors' introduction

    Watkinson A.R.
    Summary 1Natural, semi-natural and artificial grasslands occur extensively around the globe, but successful management for production and biodiversity poses several dilemmas for conservationists and farmland managers. Deriving from three continents (Africa, Australia and Europe), papers in this Special Profile interface three specific issues: plant responses to grazing, plant invasions and the responses to management of valued grassland biota. 2Although pivotal in grassland management, plant responses to grazing are sometimes difficult to predict. Two alternative approaches are presented here. The first uses natural variations in sheep grazing around a water hole to model the dynamic population response of a chenopod shrub. The second analyses a long-term grazing experiment to investigate the links between plant traits and grazing response. 3Linked often crucially with grazing, but also driven sometimes by extrinsic factors, invasions are often cause for concern in grassland management. The invasions of grasslands by woody plants threatens grassland habitats while the invasions of pastures by alien weeds reduces pasture productivity. The papers in this section highlight how a complementary range of management activities can reduce the abundance of invaders. A final paper highlights how global environmental change is presenting new circumstances in which grassland invasion can occur. 4The impact of grassland management on biodiversity is explored in this Special Profile with specific reference to invertebrates, increasingly recognized both for the intrinsic conservation value of many groups and for their role in ecosystem processes. The potential for manipulating flooding in wet grasslands to increase the soil invertebrate prey of wading birds is illustrated, together with the roles of management and landscape structure in enhancing insect diversity. 5In the face of climate change and growing demands for agricultural productivity, future pressures on grassland ecosystems will intensify. In this system in which productivity and conservation are so closely bound, there is a need both to raise the profile of the issues involved, and to improve our understanding of the applied ecology required for successful management. [source]

    The antiquity of Madagascar's grasslands and the rise of C4 grassy biomes

    William J. Bond
    Abstract Aim, Grasslands and savannas, which make up > 75% of Madagascar's land area, have long been viewed as anthropogenically derived after people settled on the island c. 2 ka. We investigated this hypothesis and an alternative , that the grasslands are an insular example of the post-Miocene spread of C4 grassy biomes world-wide. Location, Madagascar, southern Africa, East Africa. Methods, We compared the number of C4 grass genera in Madagascar with that in southern and south-central African floras. If the grasslands are recent we would expect to find fewer species and genera in Madagascar relative to Africa and for these species and genera to have very wide distribution ranges in Madagascar. Secondly, we searched Madagascan floras for the presence of endemic plant species or genera restricted to grasslands. We also searched for evidence of a grassland specialist fauna with species endemic to Madagascar. Plant and animal species endemic to C4 grassy biomes would not be expected if these are of recent origin. Results, Madagascar has c. 88 C4 grass genera, including six endemic genera. Excluding African genera with only one or two species, Madagascar has 86.6% of southern Africa's and 89.4% of south-central Africa's grass genera. C4 grass species make up c. 4% of the flora of both Madagascar and southern Africa and species : genus ratios are similar (4.3 and 5.1, respectively). Turnover of grasses along geographical gradients follows similar patterns to those in South Africa, with Andropogoneae dominating in mesic biomes and Chlorideae in semi-arid grassy biomes. At least 16 monocot genera have grassland members, many of which are endemic to Madagascar. Woody species in frequently burnt savannas include both Madagascan endemics and African species. A different woody flora, mostly endemic, occurs in less frequently burnt grasslands in the central highlands, filling a similar successional niche to montane C4 grasslands in Africa. Diverse vertebrate and invertebrate lineages have grassland specialists, including many endemic to Madagascar (e.g. termites, ants, lizards, snakes, birds and mammals). Grassland use of the extinct fauna is poorly known but carbon isotope analysis indicates that a hippo, two giant tortoises and one extinct lemur ate C4 or CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism) plants. Main conclusions, The diversity of C4 grass lineages in Madagascar relative to that in Africa, and the presence of plant and animal species endemic to Madagascan grassy biomes, does not fit the view that these grasslands are anthropogenically derived. We suggest that grasslands invaded Madagascar after the late Miocene, part of the world-wide expansion of C4 grassy biomes. Madagascar provides an interesting test case for biogeographical analysis of how these novel biomes assembled, and the sources of the flora and fauna that now occupy them. A necessary part of such an analysis would be to establish the pre-settlement extent of the C4 grassy biomes. Carbon isotope analysis of soil organic matter would be a feasible method for doing this. [source]

    The impacts of changes in vegetation cover on dry season flow in the Kikuletwa River, northern Tanzania

    P. K. T. Munishi
    Abstract While the decrease in flow is obvious in the Kikuletwa River, the mechanism leading to the decrease is unclear. We assessed the influence of vegetation cover change on dry season flow in the Kikuletwa River. The combined cover of closed and open forests decreased by 68% while closed and open forests decreased by 56% and 64% respectively. Land under agroforestry decreased by 25%, while that under annual crops increased by 41%. Grasslands increased by 116% and riverine vegetation decreased by 53%. Daily dry season flow showed a slightly decreasing trend in one of the stations despite all of them receiving water from the Rundugai natural springs. On the other hand, low flow indices indicated no statistically significant changes in the long-term average flow and there was no identifiable change in the rainfall amount. The majority (93%) of the local people perceived a changing rainfall pattern and decline in dry season flow in the Kikuletwa River. Changes in the dry season flow then can be associated with the identified land cover changes. Further research to substantiate the local people perceptions is important as indigenous knowledge may be good evidence for ascertaining changes in the natural environment. [source]

    Plot shape effects on plant species diversity measurements

    Jon E. Keeley
    Abstract. Question: Do rectangular sample plots record more plant species than square plots as suggested by both empirical and theoretical studies? Location: Grasslands, shrublands and forests in the Mediterranean-climate region of California, USA. Methods: We compared three 0.1-ha sampling designs that differed in the shape and dispersion of 1-m2 and 100-m2 nested subplots. We duplicated an earlier study that compared the Whittaker sample design, which had square clustered subplots, with the modified Whittaker design, which had dispersed rectangular subplots. To sort out effects of dispersion from shape we used a third design that overlaid square subplots on the modified Whittaker design. Also, using data from published studies we extracted species richness values for 400-m2 subplots that were either square or 1:4 rectangles partially overlaid on each other from desert scrub in high and low rainfall years, chaparral, sage scrub, oak savanna and coniferous forests with and without fire. Results: We found that earlier empirical reports of more than 30% greater richness with rectangles were due to the confusion of shape effects with spatial effects, coupled with the use of cumulative number of species as the metric for comparison. Average species richness was not significantly different between square and 1:4 rectangular sample plots at either 1- or 100-m2. Pairwise comparisons showed no significant difference between square and rectangular samples in all but one vegetation type, and that one exhibited significantly greater richness with squares. Our three intensive study sites appear to exhibit some level of self-similarity at the scale of 400 m2, but, contrary to theoretical expectations, we could not detect plot shape effects on species richness at this scale. Conclusions: At the 0.1-ha scale or lower there is no evidence that plot shape has predictable effects on number of species recorded from sample plots. We hypothesize that for the mediterranean-climate vegetation types studied here, the primary reason that 1:4 rectangles do not sample greater species richness than squares is because species turnover varies along complex environmental gradients that are both parallel and perpendicular to the long axis of rectangular plots. Reports in the literature of much greater species richness recorded for highly elongated rectangular strips than for squares of the same area are not likely to be fair comparisons because of the dramatically different periphery/area ratio, which includes a much greater proportion of species that are using both above and below-ground niche space outside the sample area. [source]

    The Restoration of Phytophagous Beetles in Species-Rich Chalk Grasslands

    Ben A. Woodcock
    This study focuses on the restoration of chalk grasslands over a 6-year period and tests the efficacy of two management practices, hay spreading and soil disturbance, in promoting this process for phytophagous beetles. Restoration success for the beetles, measured as similarity to target species,rich chalk grassland, was not found to be influenced by either management practice. In contrast, restoration success for the plants did increase in response to hay spreading management. Although the presence of suitable host plants was considered to dictate the earliest point at which phytophagous beetles could successfully colonized, few beetle species colonized as soon as their host plants became established. Morphological characteristics and feeding habits of 27 phytophagous beetle species were therefore tested to identify factors that limited their colonization and persistence. The lag time between host plant establishment and colonization was greatest for flightless beetles. Beetles with foliage-feeding larvae both colonized at slower rates than seed-, stem-, or root-feeding species and persisted within the swards for shorter periods. Although the use of hay spreading may benefit plant communities during chalk grassland restoration, it did not directly benefit phytophagous beetles. Without techniques for overcoming colonization limitation for invertebrate taxa, short-term success of restoration may be limited to the plants only. [source]

    Are Ants Useful Indicators of Restoration Success in Temperate Grasslands?

    Kate C. Fagan
    Assessments of restoration are usually made through vegetation community surveys, leaving much of the ecosystem underexamined. Invertebrates, and ants in particular, are good candidates for restoration evaluation because they are sensitive to environmental change and are particularly important in ecosystem functioning. The considerable resources currently employed in restoring calcareous grassland on ex-arable land mean that it is important to gather as much information as possible on how ecosystems change through restoration. We compared ant communities from 40 ex-arable sites where some form of restoration work had been implemented between 2 and 60 years previously, with 40 paired reference sites of good quality calcareous grassland with no history of improvement or cultivation. A total of 11 ant species were found, but only two of these were found to be significantly different in abundance between restoration and reference sites: Myrmica sabuleti was more likely to be present in reference sites, whereas Lasius niger was more likely to be found in restoration sites. Myrmica sabuleti abundance was significantly positively correlated with age of restoration sites. The potential number of ant species found in temperate grasslands is small, limiting the information their assemblages can provide about ecosystem change. However, M. sabuleti is a good indicator species for calcareous grassland restoration success and, alongside information from the plant community, could increase the confidence with which restoration success is judged. We found the survey to be quick and simple to carry out and recommend its use. [source]

    Sawdust Addition Reduces the Productivity of Nitrogen-Enriched Mountain Grasslands

    T. Spiegelberger
    Abstract Anthropogenic nutrient enrichment of mountain grasslands has boosted grasses and fast-growing unpalatable plants at the expense of slow-growing species, resulting in a significant loss in biodiversity. A potential tool to reduce nutrient availability and aboveground productivity without destroying the perennial vegetation is carbon (C) addition. However, little is known about its suitability under severe climatic conditions. Here, we report the results of a 3-year field study assessing the effects of sawdust addition on soil nutrients, aboveground productivity, and vegetational composition of 10 grazed and ungrazed mountain grasslands. Of particular interest was the effect of C addition on grasses and on the tall unpalatable weed Veratrum album. After 3 years, soil pH, ammonium, and plant-available phosphorus were not altered by sawdust application, and nitrate concentrations were marginally higher in treatment plots. However, the biomass of grasses and forbs (without V. album) was 20,25% lower in sawdust-amended plots, whereas the biomass of V. album was marginally higher. Sawdust addition reduced the cover of grasses but did not affect evenness, vegetation diversity, or plant species richness, although species richness generally increased with decreasing biomass at our sites. Our results suggest that sawdust addition is a potent tool to reduce within a relatively short time the aboveground productivity and grass cover in both grazed and ungrazed mountain grasslands as long as they are not dominated by tall unpalatable weeds. The technique has the advantage that it preserves the topsoil and the perennial soil seed bank. [source]

    Effects of Restoration on Plant Species Richness and Composition in Scandinavian Semi-Natural Grasslands

    Regina Lindborg
    Abstract Plant species richness in rural landscapes of northern Europe has been positively influenced by traditional management for millennia. Owing to abandonment of these practices, the number of species-rich semi-natural grasslands has decreased, and remaining habitats suffer from deterioration, fragmentation, and plant species decline. To prevent further extinctions, restoration efforts have increased during the last decades, by reintroducing grazing in former semi-natural grasslands. To assess the ecological factors that might influence the outcome of such restorations, we made a survey of semi-natural grasslands in Sweden that have been restored during the last decade. We investigated how plant species richness, species density, species composition, and abundance of 10 species that are indicators of grazing are affected by (1) the size of the restored site, (2) the time between abandonment of grazing and restoration, (3) the time elapsed since restoration, and (4) the abundance of trees and shrubs at the restored site. Only two factors, abundance of trees and shrubs and time since restoration, were positively associated with total species richness and species density per meter square at restored sites. Variation in species composition among restored sites was not related to any of the investigated factors. Species composition was relatively similar among sites, except in mesic/wet grasslands. The investigated factors had small effects on the abundance of the grazing-indicator species. Only Campanula rotundifolia responded to restoration with increasing abundance and may thus be a suitable indicator of improved habitat quality. In conclusion, positive effects on species richness may appear relatively soon after restoration, but rare, short-lived species are still absent. Therefore, remnant populations in surrounding areas may be important in fully recreating former species richness and composition. [source]

    Restoration of Species Richness in Abandoned Mediterranean Grasslands: Seeds in Cattle Dung

    Juan Traba
    Abstract Endozoochory has proven to be a highly effective mechanism in the dispersal of viable seeds in Mediterranean grasslands. We studied the effect of cattle dung application on species richness, particularly on the reintroduction of species lost after abandonment. Sown and control plots were monitored for 3 years after dung sowing. We found a significant increase in small-scale richness, which may be attributed to the treatment, with the inclusion of species detected in the dung and in the grazed pasture. The differences in richness and floristic composition diminished over time. This experiment proves the potential utility of this treatment for the restoration of species richness in abandoned pastures, although supplementary steps are necessary, including further sowing and/or shrub cutting in subsequent years. [source]

    Mounding as a Technique for Restoration of Prairie on a Capped Landfill in the Puget Sound Lowlands

    Kern Ewing
    Abstract Closed landfills create large open spaces that are often proposed as sites for restored or created ecosystems. Grasslands are probably prescribed most often because of the presumption that grass root systems will not breach the landfill cap. Capped landfills have a number of soil degradation problems, including compaction, decreased permeability, lack of organic material, diminished soil fauna, inappropriate texture, and lack of structure. In this study in the Puget Sound lowlands, Washington, U.S.A., mounding (low sandy-loam mounds, about 20 cm high and 2 m in diameter), addition of fertilizer, and mulching with yard-waste compost were applied to landfill sites as treatments in a factorial-design experiment. Prairie plants (1,344 individuals, 7 species) were planted into 4-m2 plots (n = 48), and plant growth and survival and the increase in weed biomass were monitored for 3 years. Mulching had no effect on plant survival or growth. Fertilization had a negative effect on Lupinus lepidus, a nitrogen-fixing species. Mounding had a positive effect on growth and survival of Eriophyllum lanatum, Festuca idahoensis, and Aster curtus. Potentilla pacifica was indifferent to mounding, and Carex inops responded negatively. Mounds should probably be used as one element of a complex of habitats on restored landfills. [source]

    Short-term propagation of rainfall perturbations on terrestrial ecosystems in central California

    Mónica García
    Abstract Question: Does vegetation buffer or amplify rainfall perturbations, and is it possible to forecast rainfall using mesoscale climatic signals? Location: Central California (USA). Methods: The risk of dry or wet rainfall events was evaluated using conditional probabilities of rainfall depending on El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. The propagation of rainfall perturbations on vegetation was calculated using cross-correlations between monthly seasonally adjusted (SA) normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), and SA antecedent rainfall at different time-scales. Results: In this region, El Niño events are associated with higher than normal winter precipitation (probability of 73%). Opposite but more predictable effects are found for La Niña events (89% probability of dry events). Chaparral and evergreen forests showed the longest persistence of rainfall effects (0-8 months). Grasslands and wetlands showed low persistence (0-2 months), with wetlands dominated by non-stationary patterns. Within the region, the NDVI spatial patterns associated with higher (lower) rainfall are homogeneous (heterogeneous), with the exception of evergreen forests. Conclusions: Knowledge of the time-scale of lagged effects of the non-seasonal component of rainfall on vegetation greenness, and the risk of winter rainfall anomalies lays the foundation for developing a forecasting model for vegetation greenness. Our results also suggest greater competitive advantage for perennial vegetation in response to potential rainfall increases in the region associated with climate change predictions, provided that the soil allows storing extra rainfall. [source]

    Grassland invertebrate assemblages in managed landscapes: Effect of host plant and microhabitat architecture

    AUSTRAL ECOLOGY, Issue 6 2007
    Abstract Grasslands are often considered as two-dimensional habitats rather than complex, multilayered habitats. However, native grasslands are complex habitats, with multiple layers of annual and perennial grasses, sedges, shrubs and mosses. Vegetation complexity, including plant type, quality and three-dimensional structure is important for providing a variety of food and habitat resources for insects. Grazing by domestic livestock can affect these processes through the loss or fragmentation of habitats, as well as altering the vertical and horizontal vegetation structure. This study aimed to investigate the role of host plants and microhabitat architecture for determining foliage invertebrate assemblages. Different plant species supported distinct invertebrate assemblages and less complex host plants supported fewer invertebrate individuals and species. Manipulations of plant architecture changed the species composition of invertebrates, with most species found in more complex vegetation. This study illustrates the importance of host diversity and pasture complexity for invertebrate communities. Management practices that encourage a heterogeneous environment with diverse and structurally complex pastures should also sustain a more diverse and functional invertebrate assemblage. [source]

    Flying Foxes Prefer to Forage in Farmland in a Tropical Dry Forest Landscape Mosaic in Fiji

    BIOTROPICA, Issue 2 2010
    Article first published online: 29 SEP 200, Matthew Scott Luskin
    ABSTRACT To test flying fox adaptations to a habitat mosaic with extreme deforestation, the abundance, habitat choice and feeding behavior of the Pacific flying fox, Pteropus tonganus, were investigated across 16 islands of the Yasawa archipelago, Fiji. The habitat mosaic is formed by 4.3 percent tropical dry forest and 3.3 percent farmland, leaving exotic grasslands and stands of Leucaena leucocephala to overrun the vast majority of land. Pteropus tonganus abundance was high (5757 bats) despite deforestation and hunting. Roosting sites were restricted to native forest fragments. Grasslands and stands of L. leucocephala were completely void of bats at all times. The mean foraging density in farmland was four times higher than in forests and foraging competition was routinely observed in farmland but was extremely rare in forests. The author suggests that during the study, extensive foraging in farmland was supporting the high P. tonganus population. Additionally, the preferential foraging in farmland was responsible for the low foraging densities within forests and dramatically less intraspecies competition for forest resources. Further research is needed on seed dispersal within forests and to test for seasonal variations in bat abundance and feeding. [source]