Plant species occurrences in a rural hemiboreal landscape: effects of remnant habitats, site history, topography and soil
Changes in land use during the last century have caused fragmentation and a reduction in area of many species-rich habitats in the hemiboreal region. We examined abundances of plant species and their occurrence in different habitats in south-east Sweden. We found 361 plant species in 146 sample sites, which represented 14 different types of habitat. Most species were rare and occurred only in a few habitats. Almost half of all species (49%) were found in one or two habitats. Of these, 99 species occurred in one habitat only. The habitats with largest number of restricted species, i.e. habitat specialists, were dry to mesic semi-natural grasslands and remnant habitats such as road verges and midfield islets. The occurrence of 52 species was analysed with respect to topography, top- and subsoil and land use history. Few of the 52 species were affected by aspect or type of topsoil. Subsoil affected nearly half of the species and habitats with a convex landform influenced occurrence of >90% of the species. Seventeen species were positively associated with a long continuity of grassland management, whereas two species were associated with lack of management. Open grasslands that are encroached by trees and shrubs show a decline in species number. Deciduous forests, especially wet deciduous forests, have a potential for restoring moist to mesic grassland habitats. Small remnant habitats are important for many of the species restricted to semi-natural grasslands. These habitats may function as “rescue sites” for the species, which in turn may promote dispersal and increase likelihood of restoration success. Therefore, remnant habitats are important for maintaining and restoring species richness in rural landscapes.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: August 1, 2001