Vegetation in clear-cuts depends on previous land use: a century-old grassland legacy
2014 (English)In: Ecology and Evolution, ISSN 2045-7758, Vol. 4, no 22, 4287-4295 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Plant species richness in central and northern European seminatural grasslandsis often more closely linked to past than present habitat configuration, which isindicative of an extinction debt. In this study, we investigate whether signs ofhistorical grassland management can be found in clear-cuts after at least80 years as coniferous production forest by comparing floras between clear-cutswith a history as meadow and as forest in the 1870s in Sweden. Study sites wereselected using old land-use maps and data on present-day clear-cuts. Speciestraits reflecting high capacities for dispersal and persistence were used toexplain any possible links between the plants and the historical land use. Clearcutsthat were formerly meadow had, on average, 36% higher species richnessand 35% higher richness of grassland indicator species, as well as a larger overallseed mass and lower anemochory, compared to clear-cuts with history asforest. We suggest that the plants in former meadows never disappeared afterafforestation but survived as remnant populations. Many contemporary forestsin Sweden were managed as grasslands in the 1800s. As conservation of remaininggrassland fragments will not be enough to reduce the existing extinctiondebts of the flora, these young forests offer opportunities for grassland restorationat large scales. Our study supports the concept of remnant populationsand highlights the importance of considering historical land use for understandingthe distribution of grassland plant species in fragmented landscapes, aswell as for policy-making and conservation.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2014. Vol. 4, no 22, 4287-4295 p.
Extinction debt, habitat fragmentation, historical maps, plant traits, production forestry, remnant populations, seminatural grasslands.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-112672DOI: 10.1002/ece3.1288ISI: 000345316200008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-112672DiVA: diva2:769141