Grassland diversity related to the Late Iron Age human population density

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Grassland diversity related to the Late Iron Age human population density. / Partel, M; Helm, A; Reitalu, Triin; Liira, J; Zobel, M.

I: Journal of Ecology, Vol. 95, Nr. 3, 2007, s. 574-582.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift

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Partel, M ; Helm, A ; Reitalu, Triin ; Liira, J ; Zobel, M. / Grassland diversity related to the Late Iron Age human population density. I: Journal of Ecology. 2007 ; Vol. 95, Nr. 3. s. 574-582.

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TY - JOUR

T1 - Grassland diversity related to the Late Iron Age human population density

AU - Partel, M

AU - Helm, A

AU - Reitalu, Triin

AU - Liira, J

AU - Zobel, M

N1 - The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Plant Ecology and Systematics (Closed 2011) (011004000)

PY - 2007

Y1 - 2007

N2 - 1 Species-rich semi-natural grasslands in Europe developed during prehistoric times and have endured due to human activity. At the same time, intensive grassland management or changes in land use may result in species extinction. As a consequence, plant diversity in semi-natural calcareous grasslands may be related to both historical and current human population density. 2 We hypothesize that current vascular plant diversity in semi-natural calcareous grasslands is positively correlated with the Late Iron Age (c. 800-1000 years ago) density of human settlements (indicated by Late Iron Age fortresses and villages) due to enhancement of grassland extent and species dispersal, and negatively correlated with current human population density due to habitat loss and deterioration. 3 We described the size of the community vascular plant species pool, species richness per 1 m(2) and the relative richness (richness divided by the size of the species pool) in 45 thin soil, calcareous (alvar) grasslands in Estonia. In addition to historical and current human population density we considered simultaneously the effects of grassland area, connectivity to other alvar grasslands, elevation above sea level (indicating grassland age), soil pH, soil N, soil P, soil depth, soil depth heterogeneity, geographical east-west gradient, precipitation and spatial autocorrelation. 4 Both the size of the community species pool and the species richness are significantly correlated with the Late Iron Age human population density. In addition, species richness was unimodally related to the current human population density. The relative richness (species 'packing density') was highest in the intermediate current human population densities, indicative of moderate land-use intensity. 5 Community species pool size decreased non-linearly with increasing soil N, and was highest at intermediate elevation. Small-scale richness was greater when sites were well connected and when the elevation was intermediate. Spatial autocorrelation was also significant for both species pool size and small-scale richness. 6 In summary, human land-use legacy from prehistoric times is an important aspect in plant ecology, which could be an important contributor to the current variation in biodiversity.

AB - 1 Species-rich semi-natural grasslands in Europe developed during prehistoric times and have endured due to human activity. At the same time, intensive grassland management or changes in land use may result in species extinction. As a consequence, plant diversity in semi-natural calcareous grasslands may be related to both historical and current human population density. 2 We hypothesize that current vascular plant diversity in semi-natural calcareous grasslands is positively correlated with the Late Iron Age (c. 800-1000 years ago) density of human settlements (indicated by Late Iron Age fortresses and villages) due to enhancement of grassland extent and species dispersal, and negatively correlated with current human population density due to habitat loss and deterioration. 3 We described the size of the community vascular plant species pool, species richness per 1 m(2) and the relative richness (richness divided by the size of the species pool) in 45 thin soil, calcareous (alvar) grasslands in Estonia. In addition to historical and current human population density we considered simultaneously the effects of grassland area, connectivity to other alvar grasslands, elevation above sea level (indicating grassland age), soil pH, soil N, soil P, soil depth, soil depth heterogeneity, geographical east-west gradient, precipitation and spatial autocorrelation. 4 Both the size of the community species pool and the species richness are significantly correlated with the Late Iron Age human population density. In addition, species richness was unimodally related to the current human population density. The relative richness (species 'packing density') was highest in the intermediate current human population densities, indicative of moderate land-use intensity. 5 Community species pool size decreased non-linearly with increasing soil N, and was highest at intermediate elevation. Small-scale richness was greater when sites were well connected and when the elevation was intermediate. Spatial autocorrelation was also significant for both species pool size and small-scale richness. 6 In summary, human land-use legacy from prehistoric times is an important aspect in plant ecology, which could be an important contributor to the current variation in biodiversity.

KW - grassland management

KW - Iron Age

KW - landscape

KW - species density

KW - land-use history

KW - diaspores

KW - dispersal

KW - species pool

KW - packing

KW - species

KW - rehistoric settlements

U2 - 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2007.01230.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2007.01230.x

M3 - Article

VL - 95

SP - 574

EP - 582

JO - Journal of Ecology

T2 - Journal of Ecology

JF - Journal of Ecology

SN - 1365-2745

IS - 3

ER -