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Interacting effects of fertilization, mowing and grazing on plant species diversity of 1500 grasslands in Germany differ between regions

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http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons62544

Schöning,  Ingo
Soil and Ecosystem Processes, Dr. M. Schrumpf, Department Biogeochemical Processes, Prof. S. E. Trumbore, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons62549

Schulze,  Ernst-Detlef
Emeritus Group, Prof. E.-D. Schulze, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Socher, S. A., Prati, D., Boch, S., Müller, J., Baumbach, H., Gockel, S., et al. (2013). Interacting effects of fertilization, mowing and grazing on plant species diversity of 1500 grasslands in Germany differ between regions. Basic and Applied Ecology, 14, 126-136. doi:10.1016/j.baae.2012.12.003.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000E-EFED-F
Abstract
The relationship of different types of grassland use with plant species richness and composition (functional groups of herbs, legumes, and grasses) has so far been studied at small regional scales or comprising only few components of land use. We comprehensively studied the relationship between abandonment, fertilization, mowing intensity, and grazing by different livestock types on plant diversity and composition of 1514 grassland sites in three regions in North-East, Central and South- West Germany. We further considered environmental site conditions including soil type and topographical situation. Fertilized grasslands showed clearly reduced plant species diversity (−15% plant species richness, −0.1 Shannon diversity on fertilized grasslands plots of 16m2) and changed composition (−3% proportion of herb species), grazing had the second largest effects and mowing the smallest ones. Among the grazed sites, the ones grazed by sheep had higher than average species richness (+27%), and the cattle grazed ones lower (−42%). Further, these general results were strongly modulated by interactions between the different components of land use and by regional context: land-use effects differed largely in size and sometimes even in direction between regions. This highlights the importance of comparing different regions and to involve a large number of plots when studying relationships between land use and plant diversity. Overall, our results show that great caution is necessary when extrapolating results and management recommendations to other regions.