Plant Species and Functional Types’ Diversity in Relation to Grazing in Arid and Semi-arid Rangelands, Khabr National Park, Iran

Document Type: Research and Full Length Article

Authors

1 Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Gorgan

2 Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Gorgan,

Abstract

In arid and semi-arid rangelands, grazing as one of the natural or human induced processes has direct and indirect effects on structure and dynamics of plant community and ecosystems. A study was done to analyze the effects of grazing on plant species diversity and Plant Functional Types‘ (PFTs) diversity of arid and semi-arid rangelands. We analyzed plant richness and diversity data from 75 sampling plots located in five bioclimatic zones of Khabr National Park containing a total of 73 plant species. Ward's hierarchical clustering was then used to cluster all plant species into eight PFTs according to the chosen traits. For each site, grazing intensity was estimated in three classes (low grazing, medium and high grazing intensities). We found that as grazing intensity increased, total species richness and diversity were decreased. Considering PFTs as total showed the same pattern for species; however, each PFT diversity and richness didn‘t display a significant different response to grazing. Looking at each PFT relative cover change in different grazing intensities showed that PFT1 and PFT8 were grazing sensitivities while PFT6 and PFT7 benefited from grazing and their relative cover increased consistently in response to the increased grazing intensity. PFT3 and PFT4 had the highest relative cover rates in moderately grazed areas. PFT2 and PFT5 had a complicated response to grazing and their relative cover was the minimum at moderately grazed sits. This finding may imply that grazing has completely negative impacts on the community structure and it seems that it reduces plant species and functional types‘ diversity and richness. It can be also concluded that the analyses on PFTs level possibly give more insight into the grazing response of plant community in arid and semi-arid rangelands than those on species level but there is a need for further studies.

Keywords


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