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Long-term changes in vegetation and soil chemistry in a calcareous and sandy semi-natural grassland

Authors
Journal
Flora - Morphology Distribution Functional Ecology of Plants
0367-2530
Publisher
Elsevier
Volume
207
Issue
5
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.flora.2012.03.003
Keywords
  • Acidification
  • Calcareous Grassland
  • Conservation
  • Decalcification
  • Eutrophication
  • Vegetation
Disciplines
  • Chemistry

Abstract

Abstract Calcicole plant species are vulnerable to acidification and fertilization, caused by deposition and changes in land use, since they are adapted to nutrient-poor calcareous conditions. In this study we used vegetation data (vascular plants, bryophytes and lichens) from 1964 and 1985 and stored soil samples from 1966 to investigate long-term soil chemistry and vegetation changes in a semi-natural, sandy calcareous grassland in southern Sweden. In the re-investigation in 2008 we found that increased decalcification due to acidification could not be verified. The plant community had changed from stress-tolerant calcareous grassland towards a community promoted by higher nutrient availability. Furthermore, the cover of species indicating calcareous conditions had decreased. A decline in the cover of species adapted to alkaline, phosphorus-poor conditions may be due to increased nutrient availability, but there were also indications that the vegetation had changed due to overgrowth by woody plants. This long-term impoverishment of the plant community highlights the need for appropriate management of calcareous grasslands, in order to limit the nutrients available in the soil and prevent overgrowth by shrubs and trees.

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