The University of Arizona

Relationship between plant species diversity and grassland condition.

Y. Bai, Z. Abouguendia, R.E. Redmann

Abstract


Although the maintenance of biodiversity has become one of the goals in ecosystem management, the relationships of diversity to ecosystem characteristics such as level of herbivory, productivity, and vegetation structure are still poorly understood. We examined these relationships in 8 native grassland sites differing in grazing histories and range condition in the Mixed Grassland (6), Moist Mixed Grassland (1) and Aspen Parkland (1) ecoregions of southern Saskatchewan. Range condition, assessed using standard methods, ranged from fair to excellent. The Shannon's diversity index followed a curvi-linear relationship with range condition, increasing from fair to good, but decreasing from good to excellent condition, within a range between 0.66 and 2.58. Species evenness was affected by range condition in a similar manner ranging from 0.44 to 0.86. Species richness varied among sites and plots between 4 and 28 plants 0.25 m(-2), but changed little with range condition. Most structural parameters, such as the cover, height, or thickness of standing plants (live or dead) and litter, increased with range condition especially from good to excellent. The Shannon's diversity index was positively correlated with forb biomass, but not with biomass of any other group or their combination. Grazing regimes that maintain good range condition also maintain species and structural diversity of grasslands.

DOI:10.2458/azu_jrm_v54i2_bai


Keywords


Lycopodiaceae;species eveness;grassland condition;ground cover;species diversity;Saskatchewan;forbs;biomass;range management;plant litter;botanical composition;grasses;plant height

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