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How does grazing by cattle modify the vegetation of coastal grasslands along the Baltic Sea?

Heli Jutila
Annales Botanici Fennici
Vol. 38, No. 3 (2001), pp. 181-200
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23726759
Page Count: 20
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
How does grazing by cattle modify the vegetation of coastal grasslands along the Baltic Sea?
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Abstract

The vegetation of four grazed and five ungrazed shore grasslands was studied in seashore and in delta on the southwestern coast of Finland. Ordinations and classifications separated delta plots from seashore plots, which were further divided into reed stand plots, epilittoral plots and geo- and hydrolittoral plots. The partitions reflected flooding stress, moisture conditions, grazing and properties of parent material. Elevation explained the data best. The primary factor in producing the vegetation zonation pattern in these Baltic coastal grasslands is the short-term fluctuation in sea-level. Although grazing was not the most important factor for explaining the variability in the data, its impact on the vegetation was considerable. Phragmites australis was much more common in ungrazed than in grazed plots. It dominated the hydrolittoral, was abundant in geolittoral and existed even in transition zone of the ungrazed transects. In grazed transects Agrostis stolonifera and Eleocharis uniglumis dominated the hydrolittoral. The lower geolittoral was dominated by perennial graminoids. In the middle and upper geolittoral, forbs were more frequent and abundant. In the grazed seashore transects, the lower geolittoral was dominated by Juncus gerardii, while in the ungrazed transects Calamagrostis stricta, Agrostis stolonifera and Juncus gerardii formed the zone together with Phragmites australis. The transition zone in the grazed transects was a narrow drift wall, in the ungrazed transects, however, it was much broader and dominated by tall growing plants. On fine-grained substrate, the epilittoral was dominated by Agrostis capillaris, Carex nigra and Deschampsia cespitosa and on till by Deschampsia flexuosa and Galium verum.

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