Grazing effects upon plant community structure in subhumid grasslands of Argentina

O. E. Sala, M. Oesterheld, R. J.C. León, A. Soriano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

161 Scopus citations

Abstract

Changes in plant community structure are identified as a result of grazing in grasslands of the flooding pampa which evolved under supposedly light grazing conditions. The effect of excluding grazing upon total leaf area index was an increase of 30%. The largest response was observed in the distribution of leaves in the canopy. In the grazed areas, most of the green material was concentrated in the 0-5 cm layer while in the ungrazed treatments the largest portion of the leaf area was in the 10-30 cm layer. Grazing exclusion resulted in a small change in total basal area but a larger change in its distribution, from many small tussocks to less numerous large ones. The effect of grazing upon leaf area and basal area was accounted for by changes in vigor as well as by changes in species composition. The major effect of excluding grazing upon species composition was the disappearance of some native planophile species and most of the exotics. The species composition of grazed areas of both communities was very similar while there were large differences between the ungrazed areas and between the grazed and ungrazed areas of the same community. It is suggested that there is a group of species which responds to the coarse-grained 'signal' of grazing and its presence can cause dissimilar communities to converge under grazing conditions. The other group of species responded to the fine-grained 'signal' of the environmental conditions associated with topography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-32
Number of pages6
JournalVegetatio
Volume67
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 1986
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Argentina
  • Basal area
  • Community structure
  • Diversity
  • Dynamics
  • Flooding pampa
  • Grassland
  • Grazing effect
  • Leaf area

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science

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