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Effect of rotational shepherding on demographic and genetic connectivity of calcareous grassland plants

Rico, Y. and Boehmer, Hans J. and Wagner, H. H. (2014) Effect of rotational shepherding on demographic and genetic connectivity of calcareous grassland plants. Conservation Biology, 28 (2). pp. 467-477. ISSN 0888-8892

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    Abstract

    Response to habitat fragmentation may not be generalized among species, in particular for plant communities with a variety of dispersal traits. Calcareous grasslands are one of the most species-rich habitats in Central Europe, but abandonment of traditional management has caused a dramatic decline of calcareous grassland species. In the Southern Franconian Alb in Germany, reintroduction of rotational shepherding in previously abandoned grasslands has restored species diversity, and it has been suggested that sheep support seed dispersal among grasslands. We tested the effect of rotational shepherding on demographic and genetic connectivity of calcareous grassland specialist plants and whether the response of plant populations to shepherding was limited to species dispersed by animals (zoochory). Specifically, we tested competing dispersal models and source and focal patch properties to explain landscape connectivity with patch-occupancy data of 31 species. We fitted the same connectivity models to patch occupancy and nuclear microsatellite data for the herb Dianthus carthusianorum (Carthusian pink). For 27 species, patch connectivity was explained by dispersal by rotational shepherding regardless of adaptations to zoochory, whereas population size (16% species) and patch area (0% species) of source patches were not important predictors of patch occupancy in most species. [Correction made after online publication, February 25, 2014: Population size and patch area percentages were mistakenly inverted, and have now been fixed.] Microsite diversity of focal patches significantly increased the model variance explained by patch occupancy in 90% of the species. For D. carthusianorum, patch connectivity through rotational shepherding explained both patch occupancy and population genetic diversity. Our results suggest shepherding provides dispersal for multiple plant species regardless of their dispersal adaptations and thus offers a useful approach to restore plant diversity in fragmented calcareous grasslands.

    Item Type: Journal Article
    Additional Information: This Journal Supports Open Access
    Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
    Q Science > Q Science (General)
    Q Science > QK Botany
    Divisions: Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) > School of Geography, Earth Science and Environment
    Depositing User: Fulori Nainoca
    Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2015 15:32
    Last Modified: 21 Sep 2016 12:27
    URI: http://repository.usp.ac.fj/id/eprint/7870
    UNSPECIFIED

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