Can seed dispersal by human activity play a useful role for the conservation of European grasslands?

Auffret, Alistair G
Applied Vegetation Science
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Objective: To review the recent research into human-mediated dispersal (HMD) in the European rural landscape, and explore the potential positive aspect of HMD for grassland conservation, in contrast to it's common association with the spread of invasive species.Methods: A literature search was undertaken to identify HMD vectors in the rural landscape for discussion regarding dispersal potential past and present, implications for management, and the identification of future research needs.Results: Grazing animals are important propagule dispersers, but the reduced movement of livestock through the landscape has also meant a reduction in seeds dispersed in this way. Other, non-standard human-mediated dispersal vectors such as clothing and motor vehicles can also transport seeds of many species, and HMD vectors often transport seeds with a variety of dispersal specialisations.Recommendations: There should be a greater movement of grazing animals throughout the landscape, either within larger grazing areas or between existing grasslands. Where this is not possible, other, more directed dispersal of propagules from species-rich communities to target sites should be considered. The potential of non-standard HMD vectors to make a positive contribution to biodiversity should be considered, but more research into all types of HMD vectors is important if we are to fully understand their role in the dispersal of plant species in fragmented landscapes.
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Applied Vegetation Science
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Journal Issue/Article
Grassland Society of Southern Africa

The Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) is involved and concerned with the science and practice of range and pasture management. This broad field involves primarily the use and conservation of natural resources. It encompasses applied fields such as livestock production, wildlife management, nature conservation, water catchment management and range and mine-dump rehabilitation. The disciplines include, amongst others, ecology, botany zoology, range and pasture science, animal science, soil science and genetics. This collection includes journal articles from the African Journal of Range and Forage Science as well as related articles and reports from throughout the Southern African region.