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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 22, Issue 6–7, pp 1415–1434 | Cite as

Are restricted species checklists or ant communities useful for assessing plant community composition and biodiversity in grazed pastures?

  • Ulf Grandin
  • Lisette Lenoir
  • Anders Glimskär
Original Paper

Abstract

Semi-natural grasslands in Sweden are species-rich, and their natural values are strongly dependent on continuous management, mainly by grazing. However, the large heterogeneity in vegetation within and between grassland sites must be taken into account when designing management and preservation schemes, calling for precise field monitoring and assessment of habitat type and land use history. We have evaluated different surrogate measures to assess community composition and biodiversity of the most common vegetation types in grazed semi-natural pastures. We compared the complete plant community, two reduced checklists intended for quick surveys of the plant community, and the ant community. The results suggest that the taxonomic resolution in a plant inventory is important for both biodiversity assessment and recognition of vegetation types. The extent of a reduced species checklist was of greater importance than its quality for describing the plant community. Reduced checklists should only be used if they comprise species with known affinity to the studied vegetation types. We also found that plants and ants experience grazed semi-natural grasslands in different ways. Ant communities did not resemble the communities deduced from plant inventories, or vegetation types recognised by field staff.

Keywords

Semi-natural grassland Indicator species Surrogate taxa Restricted sampling Inventory 

Notes

Acknowledgments

David Angeler, anonymous referees and the editor are thanked for constructive criticism that helped us to improve the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Aquatic Sciences and AssessmentSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of EcologySwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Department of Forest Resource ManagementSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUmeåSweden

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