Grazing networks provide useful functional connectivity for plants in fragmented systems
Version of Record online: 29 MAR 2012
© 2012 International Association for Vegetation Science
Journal of Vegetation Science
Volume 23, Issue 5, pages 970–977, October 2012
How to Cite
Auffret, A. G., Schmucki, R., Reimark, J., Cousins, S. A.O. (2012), Grazing networks provide useful functional connectivity for plants in fragmented systems. Journal of Vegetation Science, 23: 970–977. doi: 10.1111/j.1654-1103.2012.01413.x
- Issue online: 4 SEP 2012
- Version of Record online: 29 MAR 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 29 FEB 2012
- Manuscript Received: 9 DEC 2011
- Swedish Research Council for Environment
- Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS)
- Dispersal distance;
- Historical ecology;
- Human-mediated dispersal;
- Long-distance dispersal;
- Rotational grazing
To what extent does the movement of animals between fragmented habitat patches provide functional connectivity via endozoochorous seed dispersal?
The Stockholm archipelago, Sweden.
We followed all movements of livestock between islands during one grazing season. After each movement, manure was collected and its seed content assessed through seedling emergence. Seedling data were then compared to vegetation surveys from the grazed islands with regard to functional traits.
Light- and nitrogen-demanding locally abundant species, and those with relatively small and persistent seeds were more likely to be moved between islands. For quantitative traits, only a subset of the available trait ranges were dispersed, with extreme values left behind. Species apparently specialized to other means of dispersal emerged from the manure samples. Neither dispersed traits nor seed density changed with timing of movement, but seed richness and diversity both increased throughout the season. The subsets of endozoochorously-dispersed species in the established vegetation were more similar than non-dispersed subsets between islands linked by livestock.
Grazing networks contribute to the connectivity of the core species in the system, and could provide useful tools for grassland management in fragmented landscapes.