Local and regional dynamics of Succisa pratensis
Sammanfattning: Land use change is considered to be one of the biggest threat to global species diversity. In Sweden, abandonment of grazing is one of the most common reasons for decline in species richness in semi-natural grasslands. Today semi-natural grasslands often occur as more or less isolated fragments. The result for species that benefits from grazing is a smaller area of suitable habitat and higher extinction risks and a lowered ability to colonize new areas. Succisa pratensis is a long-lived perennial plant that benefits from grazing and is common in Swedish semi-natural grasslands. I have assessed the performance of Succisa pratensis at various spatial and temporal scales, in a Swedish rural landscape. I performed demographic matrix modelling of populations at grazed and ungrazed sites. A regional level was then added, by incorporating data collected from a large number of populations and habitat types into the matrix models and extinction risks over 50 years were calculated. A dynamic metapopulation model was created and the regional dynamics, in terms of colonisations resulting from long distance dispersal and population extinctions were examined. The effects of management history were incorporated into the model by using historical maps. In addition, I made an analysis of the impact of management history on the distribution and performance of four grassland species, using vegetation maps from 1945 and 2001. Local dynamics of Succisa pratensis was negatively affected by abandonment of grazing. Recorded population sizes were ten times higher in grazed sites than in ungrazed. The turnover rate of the system was estimated to about one extinction or colonisation per year. Both the simulation study and the analyses of vegetation maps suggested a pronounced legacy of management history in Succisa pratensis in the study landscape. Overall, the results of this thesis demonstrate the importance of management history for species in the rural landscape.
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