Reinforced Traditional Management is Needed to Save a Declining Meadow Species: A Demographic Analysis
2012 (English)In: Folia Geobotanica, ISSN 1211-9520, E-ISSN 1874-9348, Vol. 47, no 3, 231-247 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The changes in agricultural practices during the last century have led to a drastic decrease in the number of traditionally managed hay meadows. Also, traditional management practices are often applied more cursorily in the remaining meadows. In combination with an increase in aerial anthropogenic nitrogen deposition, this has led to a loss of biodiversity. To investigate whether the current management is sufficient for maintaining viable populations of a typical meadow plant, Succisa pratensis, we experimentally reinforced the raking and mowing parts of the traditional management over four years in a two-by-two factorial experiment in three traditionally managed wooded hay meadows on the Baltic island of Gotland, Sweden. We found decreased litter and hay production in two of the three studied meadows as a result of our treatments. Plant sizes and asymptotic population growth rates (lambda) of S. pratensis increased, particularly in plots receiving the combined raking and mowing treatment. Stochastic long-term population growth rates (lambda (s) ) increased under the reinforced management: projected population sizes 50 years into the future showed a three-fold increase in raked plots and a 17-fold increase in plots that were both raked and mown. Because we found positive responses even in these seemingly well-managed meadows we conclude that it is essential that management is carried out more thoroughly to ensure viable population sizes. Our conclusion applies to most semi-natural grasslands receiving anthropogenic nitrogen, or where traditional management practices are less rigorously applied. We also suggest using biomass estimation instead of vegetation height as a measure of management strength.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 47, no 3, 231-247 p.
Anthropogenic nitrogen, Matrix population models, Mowing, Raking, Stochastic growth rate, Succisa pratensis
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-181841DOI: 10.1007/s12224-012-9123-3ISI: 000307556100001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-181841DiVA: diva2:558132