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The response of simulated grassland communities to the cessation of grazing

  • Changes in land-use are supposed to be among the severest prospective threats to plant diversity worldwide. In semi-natural temperate grasslands, the cessation of traditional land use like livestock grazing is considered to be one of the most important drivers of the diversity loss witnessed within the last decades. Despite of the enormous number of studies on successional pathways following grazing abandonment there is no general pattern of how grassland communities are affected in terms of diversity, trait composition and pace of succession. To gain a comprehensive picture is difficult given the heterogeneity of environments and the time and effort needed for long-term investigations. We here use a proven individual- and trait-based grassland community model to analyze short- and long-term consequences of grazing abandonment under different assumptions of resource availability, pre-abandonment grazing intensity and regional isolation of communities. Grazing abandonment led to a decrease of plant functional type (PFT) diversity inChanges in land-use are supposed to be among the severest prospective threats to plant diversity worldwide. In semi-natural temperate grasslands, the cessation of traditional land use like livestock grazing is considered to be one of the most important drivers of the diversity loss witnessed within the last decades. Despite of the enormous number of studies on successional pathways following grazing abandonment there is no general pattern of how grassland communities are affected in terms of diversity, trait composition and pace of succession. To gain a comprehensive picture is difficult given the heterogeneity of environments and the time and effort needed for long-term investigations. We here use a proven individual- and trait-based grassland community model to analyze short- and long-term consequences of grazing abandonment under different assumptions of resource availability, pre-abandonment grazing intensity and regional isolation of communities. Grazing abandonment led to a decrease of plant functional type (PFT) diversity in all but two scenarios in the long-term. In short-term we also found an increase or no change in Shannon diversity for several scenarios. With grazing abandonment we overall found an increase in maximum plant mass, clonal integration and longer lateral spread, a decrease in rosette plant types and in stress tolerant plants, as well as an increase in grazing tolerant and a decrease in grazing avoiding plant types. Observed changes were highly dependent on the regional configuration of communities, prevalent resource conditions and land use intensity before abandonment. While long-term changes took around 10-20 years in resource rich conditions, new equilibria established in resource poor conditions only after 30-40 years. Our results confirm the potential threats caused by recent land-use changes and the assumption that oligotrophic communities are more resistant than mesotrophic communities also for long-term abandonment. Moreover, results revealed that species-rich systems are not per se more resistant than species-poor grasslands. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Lina Weiß, Florian JeltschORCiDGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2015.02.002
ISSN:0304-3800 (print)
ISSN:1872-7026 (online)
Parent Title (English):Ecological modelling : international journal on ecological modelling and engineering and systems ecolog
Publisher:Elsevier
Place of publication:Amsterdam
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2015
Year of Completion:2015
Release Date:2017/03/27
Tag:Abandonment; Diversity; Individual-based model; Land use intensity; Resistance; Seed immigration
Volume:303
Pagenumber:11
First Page:1
Last Page:11
Funder:DFG Priority Program 1374 "Infrastructure-Biodiversity-Exploratories" [DFG-JE 207/5-1]
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Biochemie und Biologie
Peer Review:Referiert