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Landscape-scale simulation experiments test Romanian and Swiss management guidelines for mountain pasture-woodland habitat diversity

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Ecological Modelling, Volume 330, p.41 - 49 (2016)



<p>Distinct guidelines have been proposed in Romania and Switzerland for the management of pasture-woodlands that either focused on the regulation of grazing pressure (Romanian production perspective) or overall tree cover (Swiss conservation perspective). However, the landscape structural diversity and the cover of forest-grassland ecotones, which are both crucial for nature conservation value, were not explicitly considered.<br />
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We aimed to compare the country-specific management guidelines regarding their efficiency for the conservation of the structurally diverse forest-grassland mosaics in the light of recent land-use and climate change.<br />
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In strategic simulation experiments using the process-based model of pasture-woodland ecosystems WoodPaM, we analyzed the relationships among drivers for the formation of mosaic patterns (grazing intensity, climate change) and the resulting landscape properties (tree cover, forest-grassland ecotones, mosaic structure) during the past until today (2000 AD).<br />
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The results showed that tree canopy densification following recent climate warming is likely to trigger landscape structural shifts. Medium grazing pressure promoted the development of the full range of pasture-woodland habitats and is therefore confirmed as a management strategy that balances agronomic demands and nature conservation value. Tree cover is rejected as a criteria to monitor pasture-woodland conservation status, because its relationship to landscape structural diversity and to the cover of forest-grassland ecotones did not hold for changing climate.<br />
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Our results suggest &ldquo;experimental-retrospective&rdquo; analysis as a useful tool to test conclusions from expert knowledge.</p>