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Can seed dispersal by human activity play a useful role for the conservation of European grasslands?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
2011 (English)In: Applied Vegetation Science, ISSN 1402-2001, E-ISSN 1654-109X, Vol. 14, no 3, 291-303 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective: To review the recent research into human-mediated dispersal (HMD) in the European rural landscape, and explore the potential positive aspect of HMD for grassland conservation, in contrast to it's common association with the spread of invasive species. Methods: A literature search was undertaken to identify HMD vectors in the rural landscape for discussion regarding dispersal potential past and present, implications for management, and the identification of future research needs. Results: Grazing animals are important propagule dispersers, but the reduced movement of livestock through the landscape has also meant a reduction in seeds dispersed in this way. Other, non-standard human-mediated dispersal vectors such as clothing and motor vehicles can also transport seeds of many species, and HMD vectors often transport seeds with a variety of dispersal specialisations. Recommendations: There should be a greater movement of grazing animals throughout the landscape, either within larger grazing areas or between existing grasslands. Where this is not possible, other, more directed dispersal of propagules from species-rich communities to target sites should be considered. The potential of non-standard HMD vectors to make a positive contribution to biodiversity should be considered, but more research into all types of HMD vectors is important if we are to fully understand their role in the dispersal of plant species in fragmented landscapes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 14, no 3, 291-303 p.
Keyword [en]
Anthropochory, Conservation, Grassland, Long-distance dispersal, Restoration, Zoochory
National Category
Environmental Sciences Ecology Botany
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-69228DOI: 10.1111/j.1654-109X.2011.01124.xISI: 000292339800001OAI: diva2:477000

authorCount :1

Available from: 2012-11-19 Created: 2012-01-11 Last updated: 2013-04-16Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Seed mobility and connectivity in changing rural landscapes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Seed mobility and connectivity in changing rural landscapes
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The success or failure of many organisms to respond to the challenges of habitat destruction and a warming climate lies in the ability of plant species to disperse between isolated habitats or to migrate to new ranges. European semi-natural grasslands represent one of the world's most species-rich habitats at small scales, but agricultural intensification during the 20th century has meant that many plant species are left only on small fragments of former habitat. It is important that these plants can disperse, both for the maintenance of existing populations, and for the colonisation of target species to restored grasslands. This thesis investigates the ecological, geographical and historical influences on seed dispersal and connectivity in semi-natural grasslands, and the mobility of plants through time and space. Seed dispersal by human activity has played a large role in the build-up of plant communities in rural landscapes, but patterns have shifted. Livestock are the most traditional, and probably the most capable seed dispersal vector in the landscape, but other dispersal methods may also be effective. Motor vehicles disperse seeds with similar traits to those dispersed by livestock, while 39% of valuable grasslands in southern Sweden are connected by the road network. Humans are found to disperse around one-third of available grassland species, including several protected and red-listed species, indicating that humans may have been valuable seed dispersers in the past when rural populations were larger. Past activities can also affect seed mobility in time through the seed bank, as seeds of grassland plant species are shown to remain in the soil even after the grassland had been abandoned. Today however, low seed rain in intensively grazed semi-natural grasslands indicates that seed production may be a limiting factor in allowing seeds to be dispersed in space through the landscape.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, 2013. 38 p.
Dissertations from the Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, ISSN 1653-7211 ; 37
Biodiversity, Conservation, Functional connectivity, Historical ecology, Human-mediated dispersal, Invasive species, Landscape Ecology, Long-distance dispersal, Restoration, Seed bank, Seed dispersal, Seed rain, Structural connectivity
National Category
Physical Geography Ecology
Research subject
Physical Geography
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89105 (URN)978-91-7447-692-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-06-05, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Formas, 2006-2130

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Accepted. Paper 4: In press. Paper 5: Manuscript.

Available from: 2013-05-14 Created: 2013-04-11 Last updated: 2013-05-03Bibliographically approved

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