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Chilean Journal of Agricultural Research
Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, INIA
ISSN: 0718-5820
EISSN: 0718-5839
Vol. 72, No. 4, 2012, pp. 541-549
Bioline Code: cj12082
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

Chilean Journal of Agricultural Research, Vol. 72, No. 4, 2012, pp. 541-549

 en PERENNIAL GRASSES TRAITS AS FUNCTIONAL MARKERS OF GRAZING INTENSITY IN BASALTIC GRASSLANDS OF URUGUAY
Jaurena, Martín; Lezama, Felipe & Cruz, Pablo

Abstract

Natural grasslands in the basaltic region of Uruguay are threatened by an increase in stocking rates and changes in land use. To assess the effect of grazing intensification, plant functional types are proposed as simple tools to aid the monitoring and management of vegetation. In the present study we evaluated the effect of stocking rate increase at community level taking into account plant traits of 23 dominant perennial grass species. In order to identify plant functional types, we determined the grazing response in an experiment with two wethers stocking rates (0.78 and 1.56 livestock units ha-1) quantifying species cover and traits values. Leaf dry matter content (LDMC) and specific leaf area (SLA) were the traits that best described the perennial grasses response to the stocking rate increase and therefore are suggested to be used as functional markers. Three functional types were identified. Low stocking rates were related to functional type A (tall, warm season species with low SLA and high LDMC and functional type B (tall, cool-season species, with intermediate levels of leaf traits). On the other hand, high stocking rate encouraged functional type C (prostrate, warm season species, with high SLA and low LDMC). The classification of a highly diverse community into three functional types and the selection of traits as functional markers candidates is an innovative approach to develop simple and general methods to diagnosis the state of basaltic grasslands in Uruguay and to advise on its management.

Keywords
Natural grasslands, diagnosis, management, stocking rate

 
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