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Scale matters: Impact of management regime on plant species richness and vegetation type diversity in Wadden Sea salt marshes

  • After foundation of the Wadden Sea National Park, grazing and artificial drainage was ceased or reduced on large areas of the salt marshes at the Schleswig-Holstein mainland coast (Northern Germany). The effect of grazing cessation versus intensive and moderate grazing on vegetation diversity was studied on small (plant species richness on plots between 0.01 and 100 m2) and large scale (vegetation type richness per hectare) over 18 to 20 years by analysing data from long-term monitoring programs. Plant species richness and vegetation type richness increased strongly over time in all management regimes, because grazing-sensitive species increased first in ungrazed marshes and later dispersed to and established in intensively grazed marshes. Dominance of the tall, late-successional grass Elymus athericus on 7% to 52% of all moderately and ungrazed (primarily high marsh) plots led to a decrease in species richness. After 18 to 20 years, species richness was highest in moderately and intensively grazed high marshes. Differences were significant only on small plots of up to 4 m2. On the large scale, vegetation type richness in the low marsh was higher without grazing, while no differences were found in the high marsh. Our results indicate that grazing effects differ between spatial scales and that different spatial scales have to be considered for monitoring and evaluation of vegetation diversity in salt marshes. To conserve vegetation diversity on all scales, a large-scale mosaic of different management regimes should be maintained.

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Author:Antonia Wanner, Sigrid Suchrow, Kathrin KiehlORCiD, Wiebke Meyer, Nina Pohlmann, Martin Stock, Kai Jensen
Title (English):Scale matters: Impact of management regime on plant species richness and vegetation type diversity in Wadden Sea salt marshes
Parent Title (English):Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2013/11/07
Release Date:2023/10/30
Tag:Artificial drainage system; Grazing; Monitoring; Species-area-relationship; Succession
First Page:69
Last Page:79
Faculties:Fakultät AuL
DDC classes:500 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 550 Geowissenschaften
Review Status:Veröffentlichte Fassung/Verlagsversion