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Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3153; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093153

Effects of High Impact Grazing on Species Diversity and Plant Functional Groups in Grasslands of Northern Argentina

1
National Institute of Agriculture (INTA), Estación Experimental Corrientes, ruta 12km 1008, CC 57, Corrientes, CP 3400, Argentina
2
Institute of Agricultural Sciences in the Tropics (Hans-Ruthenberg-Institute), University of Hohenheim, 70593 Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 August 2018 / Revised: 16 August 2018 / Accepted: 16 August 2018 / Published: 4 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife)
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Abstract

High impact grazing (HIG) was proposed as a management option to reduce standing dead biomass in Northern Argentinean (Chaco) rangelands. However, the effects of HIG on grassland diversity and shifts in plant functional groups are largely unknown but essential to assess the sustainability of the impact. During a two-year grazing experiment, HIG was applied every month to analyze the seasonal effects on plant species composition and plant functional groups. The results indicate that irrespective of the season in which HIG was applied, the diversity parameters were not negatively affected. Species richness, the Shannon–Wiener diversity index and the Shannon’s equitability index did not differ from the control site within a 12-month period after HIG. While plant functional groups of dicotyledonous and annual species could not benefit from the HIG disturbance, C3-, C4-monocotyledonous and perennials increased their absolute and relative green cover. Our results suggest that HIG, if not applied in shorter frequencies than a year, neither alters diversity nor shifts the plant species composition of the grassland plant community, but instead it promotes previously established rather competitive species. HIG could therefore contribute as an alternative management practice to the sustainable land use intensification of the “Gran Chaco” grassland ecosystem and even counteract the encroachment of “low value” species. View Full-Text
Keywords: Chaco; Corrientes; biomass; management; rangeland Chaco; Corrientes; biomass; management; rangeland
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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. (CC BY 4.0).
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Kurtz, D.B.; Giese, M.; Asch, F.; Windisch, S.H.; Goldfarb, M.C. Effects of High Impact Grazing on Species Diversity and Plant Functional Groups in Grasslands of Northern Argentina. Sustainability 2018, 10, 3153.

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