How much will it cost to save grassland diversity?

Institut fũr Landwirtschaftliche Betriebslehre, Universität Hohenheim, Schloss Osthof-Sũd, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany
Biological Conservation (Impact Factor: 4.04). 07/2004; 122(2):263-273. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2004.07.016

ABSTRACT Conservation initiatives are failing to arrest the global loss of biodiversity. From our mechanistic studies of ecology and economics, we suggest that for grazing lands the root cause of this failure is a powerful economic deterrent to measures designed to protect diversity. We identify an exponential relationship between monetary returns and intensification of farming methods over an extremely wide range of grassland productivities and farm systems. At intermediate to high levels of fertility, however, this exponential increase in financial benefit from intensification is associated with a decline in biodiversity and an acceleration of the ecological processes driving species losses from grassland ecosystems.

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    ABSTRACT: The current paper is devoted to biomass yield and proportion, chemical composition and energy yield by functional groups in different semi-natural grassland types. The study was performed for three grassland types in Estonia which were represented by five NATURA 2000 meadows each. The highest yield was obtained from alluvial meadows followed by mesic and wooded meadows. Hence, the largest amount of other herbs was found from alluvial meadows, even if the proportion of this functional group was dominant in wooded meadows. The contribution of the sedges&rushes was the largest in alluvial meadows. The grasses were prevalent in mesic meadows. The legumes were growing in all studied grassland types in small amounts. Nitrogen content in legumes differed significantly from other studied functional groups, but no significant differences between functional groups in other chemical (Cl and S) contents were found. The other herbs had the highest ash content and the lowest calorific value contrary to the sedges&rushes with the lowest ash content and the highest calorific value. The highest area-specific energy potential was calculated for alluvial meadows followed by mesic and wooded meadows. The energy potential depends more on the amount of biomass than the calorific value of particular functional group. Improved knowledge about the functional groups and their chemical content enables to promote and optimise alternative usage of this late harvested mixed biomass from semi-natural grasslands for bioenergy production.
    Biomass and Bioenergy 08/2014; 67:160–166. DOI:10.1016/j.biombioe.2014.04.037 · 3.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: QuestionsWhat are the main drivers of variation in beta‐diversity for Bromus erectus semi‐natural dry grasslands of habitat 6210(*) at different scales? How should environmental variables and spatial patterns be taken into account to conserve the maximum possible beta‐diversity within the habitat? LocationCentral Italy. Methods We used 195 vegetation relevés distributed in three nested extents: a single mountain, a mountain chain and southern Lazio. Multiple regression on distance matrices was performed using dissimilarity matrices based on: (1) species abundances as response variables; (2) spatial coordinates and environmental parameters (altitude, slope, percentage of rock and stone coverage, aspect, annual rainfall) as explanatory variables. The two groups of explanatory variables were used separately to partition the variation, and jointly to assess the relative contribution of each individual variable. Those variables found to significantly affect beta‐diversity were used to: (1) compare beta‐diversity levels between a set of randomly selected and a set of stratified relevés; and (2) analyse the habitat distribution across environmental gradients. These analyses, together with the curves describing the relationships between spatial distances and composition dissimilarities, were used to inform management decisions for the habitat. ResultsMost of the variance was explained by environmental variables, whose share was higher in the smallest and intermediate extent than in the broadest extent. Community dissimilarity increased in proportion to differences in altitude and spatial distances at every extent. Accordingly, at all the extents, the selection of relevés stratified by altitude or selected taking into account a minimum spatial distance included significantly higher levels of within‐habitat beta‐diversity, than randomly selected relevés. The relation of beta‐diversity to the variation in aspect and annual rainfall varied at different extents. Conclusions Our results demonstrate that dry grassland management plans aimed at conserving the maximum within‐habitat beta‐diversity should take into account variation in environmental variables, among which altitude proved to be a critical factor at every extent. Also, spatial distances positively affect within‐habitat beta‐diversity levels, and scale‐dependent minimum distances among habitat patches should be taken into account when selecting patches of habitat 6210(*) to be conserved in the study area.
    Applied Vegetation Science 07/2013; 16(3). DOI:10.1111/avsc.12021 · 2.42 Impact Factor

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