Community Ecology

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 57–65 | Cite as

On the overlap between effect and response plant functional types linked to grazing

  • C. C. BlancoEmail author
  • E. E. Sosinski
  • B. R. C. dos Santos
  • M. A. da Silva
  • V. D. Pillar


The question addressed in this paper is whether plant traits and plant functional types related to forage selection by grazers are also related to those expressing short-term community response after grazing. Vegetation of natural campos grassland in south Brazil was examined for species composition and locally described for seven morphological traits before and after a controlled grazing period by bovine cattle. An optimization algorithm was used for the identification of plant functional effect types (PFefT) and plant functional response types (PFreT) - in this case, groups of plants similar in a given set of traits (assessed before and after one grazing short period, respectively) and in their association to grazing intensity. The results have shown that plant traits optimally defining plant types related to forage selection (PFefTs) were the same traits optimally defining short-term community response to grazing (PFreTs); also similar trends of plant morphological variation were observed among populations before and after grazing, based on the traits’ correlation structure. However, at the community level the correlation vanished, since similar communities described by the performances of PFefTs were not as similar when described by PFreTs. Hence, whether plant functional types related to forage selection (effect types) are also related to community response to grazing may depend on the level of organization considered. The paper advances on the operational definition of possible overlaps between effect and response plant functional types.


Campos Data analysis Disturbance Effect traits Forage selection Grassland Intra-specific variation Response traits Vegetation dynamics 



Biomass height


Grazing intensity


Leaf surface


Leaf tensile strength


Principal Component Analysis


Plant functional type


Plant functional effect types


Plant functional response types


Redundancy Analysis


Senescent leaves


Upper leafs density


Vegetative propagation structures


Woody biomass


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© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2007

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. C. Blanco
    • 1
    Email author
  • E. E. Sosinski
    • 1
  • B. R. C. dos Santos
    • 2
  • M. A. da Silva
    • 2
  • V. D. Pillar
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Quantitative Ecology, Department of EcologyFederal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Av. Bento GonçalvesPorto AlegreBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Forage Plants and Agro-meteorology, Faculty of AgronomyFederal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Av.Porto AlegreBrazil

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