Can we identify the primary influencers of grassland secondary succession?

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Submission Summary

Very few ancient grasslands remain and those that do exist, such as mesic South African grasslands, are very sensitive to human impacts. Human activities such as land-use changes which alter important maintaining processes in grasslands (i.e. fire, herbivory, belowground resource competition) dramatically shift grassland biodiversity and structure from their undisturbed state. These alterations reduce ecosystem stability and the ability to maintain the supply of multiple functions. Furthermore, these biologically homogeneous, secondary grassland states may persist for decades following human disturbances. To better understand grassland secondary successional processes following human disturbances DRAGNet (Disturbance and Resources Across Global Grasslands Network), a new globally replicated grassland experiment, is being initiated as an offshoot of the internationally successful Nutrient Network experiment. By initiating an experimental site of the DRAGNet experiment at the Ukulinga Research Farm we plan to contribute to both international and local understanding of aspects controlling grassland resistance and resilience to nutrient and physical disturbances. Specifically, this experiment will introduce physical disturbances through complete vegetation removal and tilling and manipulate belowground resource availability through fertilisation. We will monitor changes in species composition, biomass production and grassland reproductive capacity following these disturbances. Furthermore, we will use this experiment as an opportunity to investigate which ecologically and culturally important native plants are susceptible to these disturbances under greenhouse conditions. The outputs of this experiment will help us understand grassland responses to agricultural practices and better inform conservation and restoration efforts in the face of these global change phenomena.

Submission ID :
conservationsym20196727
Submission Type
Poster Presentation
Submission Topic
Conserving in the face of global change

Associated Sessions

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