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Zikhron Yaakov, Israel

Perevolotsky A.,Israel Agricultural Research Organization | Schwartz-Tzachor R.,Nature Park Ramat Hanadiv | Yonathan R.,Israel Agricultural Research Organization | Ne'eman G.,Haifa University
Plant Ecology | Year: 2011

Anemone coronaria, an attractive Mediterranean geophyte, seems to disappear from grazing-protected areas in Israel. We experimentally examined the ecological mechanism driving the decline of this geophyte. Ten plot-pairs were established, half we fenced as grazing exclosures and half were grazed by beef cattle. Grazing clearly reduced herbaceous biomass, increased relative solar photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) at ground level, but had almost no effect on soil properties. Grazing did not affect the number of flowers and young fruits produced by A. coronaria, nor the percentage fruit-set at the plot scale, indicating no effect on flowering, pollination, or on resource allocation to reproduction. Five years after grazing exclusion, Anemone seedling and adult plant densities were higher in grazed than in ungrazed plots. We propose a model explaining our results that can be applied also to other similar ecosystems: excluding grazing increased biomass and height of the herbaceous community and reduced relative PAR at ground level. Consequently, seedling, adult plant and flowering Anemone plant densities were lower in ungrazed plots. We recommend adding seasonal grazing as a management tool when vegetation outcompete light demanding geophytes that we wish to conserve. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Source

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