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Research article2010Peer reviewed

Remnant habitats for grassland species in an abandoned Swedish agricultural landscape

Dahlstrom, Anna; Rydin, Hakan; Borgegard, Sven-Olov


Questions: Which factors influence the persistence of vascular grassland plants in long-abandoned (at least 50 yr) arable fields and meadows? What might be the implications of current levels of species richness on abandoned arable fields and meadows for future restoration? Location: Forested highlands of Kilsbergen, south central Sweden. Methods: The abundance of all vascular plant species was investigated in three habitat types: former arable fields, hay meadows and outlands (pastures) at 27 farms, abandoned for either approximately 50 yr or 90 yr. Time since abandonment, tree cover, soil depth, degree of soil podsol development, size of the infield area and two measures of connectivity were used as predictors for species richness and species composition. Results: Former outland had denser tree cover, fewer species and fewer grassland species than former arable fields and hay meadows, irrespective of time since abandonment. Former hay meadows and arable fields with a longer time since abandonment were less rich in species, more wooded and had greater podsolization than meadows and fields abandoned at a later stage. Species richness was higher in hay meadows and arable fields at farms with larger infield area and deeper soils compared with farms with smaller infield area and shallower soils. The greatest richness of species and most open habitat were former arable fields at larger farms abandoned 50 yr before the study. Former arable fields had the highest number of grassland species. Conclusion: After 50 yr of abandonment, former arable fields were the most important remnant habitats for grassland species and may be a more promising target for restoration than formerly managed grasslands. Keywords: Arable field; Hay meadow; Infield; Land use history; Outland; Species richness; Succession; Vascular plants


Arable field; Hay meadow; Infield; Land use history; Outland; Species richness; Succession; Vascular plants

Published in

Applied Vegetation Science
2010, Volume: 13, number: 3, pages: 305-314

    Associated SLU-program

    SLU Swedish Biodiversity Centre

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science
    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

    Publication identifier


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