Landscape Ecology

, Volume 25, Issue 7, pp 1029–1039 | Cite as

Landscape context and plant community composition in grazed agricultural systems of the Northeastern United States

Research Article


Temperate humid grazing lands are an important component of the landscape of the northeastern United States, as well as of the economy of this region. Unlike their European counterparts, little is known about the basic ecology of managed grasslands in this region. During an 8-year survey of 28 farms across the northeastern United States, we sampled the vegetation on 95 grazed plots, identifying 310 plant species, and collected data on topography, climate and soils. Landscape structure data were obtained from the National Land Cover Data (NLCD) 2001 for six radii (250–2,000 m) surrounding each site. The 500-m radius was most strongly related to plant community composition. Planned species composition was related only to site factors, while associated species were influenced by both site factors and landscape pattern. Species richness was unrelated to landscape structure for either group. Differing management effects on planned and associated species may explain the variation in their responses. Managed grasslands are a critical part of the interconnected landscape of the northeastern United States, and both affect and are affected by their surroundings.


Agriculture Climate Diversity Grazing Land use Landscape pattern Soils Species richness Topography 



B. F. Tracy was responsible for establishing this project and much of the early data collection. J. M. Gonet participated in vegetation sampling and geographic data analysis. This work contributes to the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP), jointly funded, coordinated and administered by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Agricultural Research Service, and Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.


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Copyright information

© US Government 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.USDA-ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research UnitUniversity ParkUSA

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