The silence of the lambs? Plant diversity in abandoned sheep pens

https://doi.org/10.17221/327/2015-PSECitation:Kurek P., Steppa R., Grzywaczewski G., Tryjanowski P. (2016): The silence of the lambs? Plant diversity in abandoned sheep pens. Plant Soil Environ., 62: 1-8.
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This study aimed at investigating the species composition and richness of the flora of abandoned sheep pens in comparison to their immediate neighbourhood. Field research was conducted in the Wielkopolska province of western Poland on 25 circular plots (20 m2) located in the middle of abandoned pens within sheep farms, paired with 25 reference plots established in nearby grasslands. Physicochemical properties of the topsoil were modified considerably by sheep in the past, so some effects continue to this day. Abandoned sheep pens did not differ significantly in plant species richness from control plots, but Urtica dioica, Galium aparine and Rumex obtusifolius, were significantly associated with sheep pens. Similar values of Shannon index and the low Jaccard index of similarity between plot types indicate that although these habitats are not richer in plant species, they are refuges of some characteristic plant species, which are absent or infrequent in neighbouring habitats. Moreover, the changes in physicochemical properties of the soil (higher average ammonium NH4+-N and nitrate NO3-N content) and vegetation structure are very deep, as they have persisted for 25 years.
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