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Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.2307/3237241
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Title (Primary) Effects of small-scale animal disturbances on plant assemblages of set-aside land in central Germany
Author Milton, S.J.; Dean, W.R.J.; Klotz, S.
Source Titel Journal of Vegetation Science
Year 1997
Department BZF
Volume 8
Issue 1
Page From 45
Page To 54
Language englisch
Keywords Landscape heterogeneity;Microtus arrvalis;Patchiness;Plant life-history;Sus scrofa

The distribution, density and cover of small-scale natural disturbances was surveyed in semi-natural and set-aside vegetation in a hilly landscape in Central Germany in the spring of 1995. More of the landscape was disturbed on set-aside agricultural land in valley s (1.02 %) and on warm south-facing slopes(1.33 %) than on rocky hilltops (0.3 %) and cool north-facing slopes (0.56 %). The major agents of disturbance on set-aside fields were moles, rodents (and their predators) and wild boars. In surrounding semi-natural grasslands, rabbit warrens were common on south-facing slopes and mound-building ants on north-facing slopes. Disturbances were significantly clustered and frequently superimposed.

In order to investigate the effects of disturbance quality on plant assemblages in set-aside fields, two common types of disturbances were compared. These were grazing lawns (0.4–1.0 m2) maintained throughout the summer by common voles (Microtus arvalis), and excavations, 0.7–1.6 m2 in area, where wild boars (Sus scrofa) grubbing for food had removed vegetation and top soil in early spring. Both types of disturbances increased plant species richness on the local scale. Wind-dispersed annual and pauciennial forbs of ruderal habitats (e.g. Carduus acanthoides, Cirsium vulgare, Matricaria maritima, Senecio vernalis) were most abundant on the superficial disturbances made by voles, whereas small, ephemeral field weeds (e.g. Polygonum aviculare, Anagallis arvensis, Chenopodium album, Fallopia convolvulus) predominated on patches grubbed by boars.

This study confirms that small-scale disturbances by animals provide a variety of regeneration niches for field weeds and ruderals. The rate of decline in plant species richness on set-aside land is likely to be reduced where land is utilized by a variety of herbivorous and soil-moving mammals.

Persistent UFZ Identifier
Milton, S.J., Dean, W.R.J., Klotz, S. (1997):
Effects of small-scale animal disturbances on plant assemblages of set-aside land in central Germany
J. Veg. Sci. 8 (1), 45 - 54 10.2307/3237241