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Effects of past fragmentation and habitat loss and current management methods on the changes in vascular plant communities.: An evaluation of extinction debt in semi-natural grasslands in Sweden
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Biology Education Centre.
2021 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Habitat loss and fragmentation are believed to be two of the main reasons for high extinction rates of species, resulting in decreased biodiversity. According to the island biogeography theory, the species richness in a patch, here a semi-natural grassland, is dependent on the landscape composition, and therefore changes in the landscape composition will result in changes in the species richness of the grassland. However, this change in species richness may be delayed for several years, causing an extinction debt. The aim of this study was to examine the change of species richness of vascular plants in Swedish semi-natural grasslands between 2007 and 2020 and investigate if there is evidence of an extinction debt and evaluate what factors causes changes in the plant community. Data of species richness and occurrence for 40 semi-natural grasslands, as well as data of landscape changes in area and connectivity between the 1950:s and the 2000:s for these grasslands, were analysed. This study found that changes in species richness in semi-natural grasslands were affected by the changes in connectivity of the landscape. However, the effect depended on the degree of specialisation of the species to semi-natural grassland. Between 2007 and 2020, the species richness of semi- natural grasslands specialist decreased, while the species richness of non-specialist species increased. This resulted in a mean increase of overall species richness between 2007 and 2020. Observed immigration of new non-specialist species appears to suggest that, not only the connectivity, but also the habitat types in the matrix surrounding the semi-natural grasslands may substantially influence the species composition in the grassland; this is in contrast to what is predicted by the original theory of island biogeography. Species that were classified as specialist were more vulnerable to ceased management, such as grazing, than to area and connectivity decrease. This was likely because the ceased management increased the competition for light. The results also indicated that re-established management of abandoned grasslands may increase specialist species richness, highlighting the need for management actions taken in order to reverse extinction debt.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2021. , p. 23
National Category
Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-447366OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-447366DiVA, id: diva2:1573695
Educational program
Bachelor Programme in Biology / Molecular Biology
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Available from: 2021-06-28 Created: 2021-06-27 Last updated: 2021-06-28Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association
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More styles
Language
  • de-DE
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  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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  • asciidoc
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