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Effects of reindeer density on plant diversity in the Fennoscandian mountain chain
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
2005 (English)In: Rangifer, Vol. 25, 5-18 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We studied the effects of reindeer grazing on species richness and diversity of vascular plants on dolomiteinfluenced low alpine sites in the species rich northern part of the Scandes using 8 sites with different reindeer densities.Two sites were situated inside Malla Strict Nature Reserve, where reindeer grazing have been totally prohibitedsince 1981, and strongly restricted since 1950s. The six other sites were located in other species rich hotspot sitesstandardized to be as similar to the dolomite-influenced sites in Malla Strict Reserve as possible but varying in reindeerdensities commonly found in the Fennoscandian mountain chain. Each site with a habitat complex especially rich inrare vascular plants (the Dryas heath – low herb meadow complex) was systematically sampled in four plots of 2 m x10 m. The plots were divided to 20 squares of 1 m x 1 m, and complete species lists of vascular plants were compiledfor each of the squares. The first DCA (detrended correspondence analysis) axis was strongly related to an index ofreindeer grazing, indicating that grazing has a strong impact on the composition of the vegetation. None of the characteristicsindices of biodiversity (species richness, evenness or Shannon-Wiener H’) was correlated with reindeer density.The local abundances of categories consisting of relatively rare plants (Ca favored plants and red listed plants ofFinland) showed significant, positive correlation with the intensity of reindeer grazing. We conclude that even thoughthe density of reindeer has no influence on the total species richness or diversity of vascular plants, reindeer may stillbe important for regional biodiversity as it seems to favour rare and threatened plants. Moreover, our results imply thatstandard diversity indices may have limited value in the context of conservation biology, as these indices are equallyinfluenced by rarities and by trivial species.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. Vol. 25, 5-18 p.
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-7699OAI: diva2:147370
Available from: 2008-01-11 Created: 2008-01-11 Last updated: 2011-02-02Bibliographically approved

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