Nomenclature: Cabrera & Zardini (1978).
Ecosystem changes associated with grazing in subhumid South American grasslands
Version of Record online: 24 FEB 2009
2006 IAVS - the International Association of Vegetation Science
Journal of Vegetation Science
Volume 17, Issue 3, pages 323–332, June 2006
How to Cite
Altesor, A., Piñeiro, G., Lezama, F., Jackson, R.B., Sarasola, M. and Paruelo, J.M. (2006), Ecosystem changes associated with grazing in subhumid South American grasslands. Journal of Vegetation Science, 17: 323–332. doi: 10.1111/j.1654-1103.2006.tb02452.x
- Issue online: 24 FEB 2009
- Version of Record online: 24 FEB 2009
- Received 20 September 2005; Accepted 16 January 2006
- Plant Functional Type;
- Soil attribute Species richness;
Question: What are the changes in vegetation structure, soil attributes and mesofauna associated with grazing in mesic grasslands?
Location: Southern Campos of the Río de la Plata grasslands, in south-central Uruguay.
Methods: We surveyed seven continuously grazed and ungrazed paired plots. Plant and litter cover were recorded on three 5-m interception lines placed parallel to the fence in each plot. We extracted soil fauna from a 10 cm deep composite sample and analysed the oribatids. Soil attributes included bulk density, water content, organic carbon (in particulate and mineral associated organic matter) and nitrogen content and root biomass at different depths. Changes in floristic, Plant Functional Types and mesofauna composition were analysed by Non-metric Multidimensional Scaling.
Results: Species number was lower in ungrazed than in grazed plots. Of 105 species in grazed plots only three were exotics. Shrub and litter cover were significantly higher inside the exclosures, while the cover of Cyperaceae-Juncaceae was lower. Grazing treatments differed significantly in plant and oribatid species composition. Grazing exclusion significantly reduced soil bulk density and increased soil water content. Carbon content in particulate organic matter was lower in the upper soil of ungrazed sites, but deeper in the profile, grazing exclosures had 8% more carbon in the mineral associated organic matter.
Conclusions Our results generally agree with previous studies but deviate from the results of previous analyses in (1) the increase of shrub cover in ungrazed sites; (2) the redistribution of the soil organic carbon in the profile and (3) the low invasibility of the prairies regardless of grazing regime.