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International Journal of Ecology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 156274, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/156274
Research Article

The Effect of Timing of Grassland Management on Plant Reproduction

Swedish Biodiversity Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, P.O. Box 7007, 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden

Received 15 August 2011; Accepted 4 December 2011

Academic Editor: Andrew Denham

Copyright © 2012 Tommy Lennartsson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Seminatural grasslands are maintained by regular anthropogenic disturbance, usually grazing or mowing. Management action late in the growing season was historically more common than today. Two experimental grazing regimes, continuous stocking from May to September and late-onset grazing from mid-July, were compared in two Swedish grasslands. Effects on flowering and fruit production were studied and related to plant functional traits. Change in vegetation composition over six years was analysed in one grassland. Delayed onset of grazing enhanced fruit production up to four times. Phenology of reproduction was the most important plant trait explaining differences in reproduction among species. Diversity of vascular plant species was higher after six years of late-onset grazing. No differences in vegetation height or proportion of grazed shoots were found by the end of the season. The results suggest that early reproduction may function as an escape from damage and that late onset of grazing may be used as a substitute for labour-intense traditional mowing.