Biodiversity in the Grassland Biome

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Ecology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 September 2022) | Viewed by 14398

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Grasslands and Forage Crops, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca, Calea Mănăştur 3-5, 400372 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Interests: HNV; semi-natural grasslands; oligotrophic grassland; grassland management; biodiversity; indicator species; organic and mineral inputs; mulching; ecologic and agronomic value of grassland; climate fluctuation and vegetation dynamics
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Guest Editor
Institute of Environmental Sciences, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Av. Carlos III s/n, E-45071 Toledo, Spain
Interests: plant ecology; vegetation and habitat diversity; vegetation databases; grassland classification; indicator species

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Guest Editor
Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca, Calea Mănăştur 3-5, 400372 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Interests: soil microbiology; microbial ecology; plant growth promotion; root symbionts; microbial communities
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Grassland biomes described as “green oceans” have a key role in the balance of the global ecosystem and an essential contribution in the regulation of nutrients cycles. They are large areas, composed by herbaceous species and are a source of food for wildlife and a unique habitat for biodiversity. In these regions grow many species of plants and animals unique in the world, which have gradually adapted to stationary conditions. The anthropogenic influence manifested in last decades has led to a strong restriction of biodiversity and even the extinction of some species. This pressure has led to the destruction of certain biomes, some of which are listed as high risk of conservation. But there is lack of studies on this pressure effect on functional biodiversity. At the opposite pole is abandonment, which lately has had a devastating effect on intraspecific biodiversity up to cultural biodiversity. The current agricultural policies support the biodiversity of grassland biomes through various programs, with variable results.

Microbial communities of grassland biomes are responsible for nutrient recycling function, the constant conversion of organic matter and the release of nutrients to plants. At the same time, many microorganisms possess the ability to fix or solubilize essential nutrients plants, with a high rhizosphere specificity. Mycorrhizal symbionts are high-performance intra- and interspecific connectors, balancing the flow of nutrients and information throughout the ecosystem. Changes in the species dominance, constant climate changes and anthropogenic pressure severely alter the profile of microbial communities, which affects the stability of grasslands.

In this special issue, articles focused on grasslands as a biome and microbiome are welcome. Original studies, perspectives, opinions, hypotheses, reviews, models and methodologies on changes due to climate, management and anthropogenic pressure, assessments of diversity at large- or fine-scale, plant-microorganism-soil interactions, analysis of plant associations and microflora functions, evaluation of nutrients flows will be appreciated.

Dr. Florin Pacurar
Prof. Dr. Maria Pilar Rodríguez-Rojo
Dr. Vlad Stoian
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Grassland plant associations
  • Anthropic pressure
  • Climate effect
  • Biodiversity changes
  • Microbial communities
  • Nutrient fluxes

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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20 pages, 5905 KiB  
Article
Responses of Diversity and Productivity to Organo-Mineral Fertilizer Inputs in a High-Natural-Value Grassland, Transylvanian Plain, Romania
by Ioan Gaga, Florin Pacurar, Ioana Vaida, Anca Plesa and Ioan Rotar
Plants 2022, 11(15), 1975; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11151975 - 29 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1268
Abstract
Ecosystems with high natural value (HNV) have generally been maintained by agricultural practices and are increasingly important for the ecosystem services that they provide and for their socio-economic impact in the ever-changing context. Biodiversity conservation is one of the main objectives of the [...] Read more.
Ecosystems with high natural value (HNV) have generally been maintained by agricultural practices and are increasingly important for the ecosystem services that they provide and for their socio-economic impact in the ever-changing context. Biodiversity conservation is one of the main objectives of the European Green Deal, which aims to address biodiversity loss, including the potential extinction of one million species. The aim of this research was to trace the effects of organic and mineral fertilizers on the floristic composition, but also on the number of species, of the grasslands with high biodiversity (HNV) from the Transylvanian Plain, Romania. The experiments were established in 2018 on the nemoral area and analyzed the effect of a gradient of five organic and mineral treatments. Fertilization with 10 t ha−1 manure or N50 P25K25 ensures an increase in yield and has a small influence on diversity, and it could be a potential strategy for the maintenance and sustainable use of HNV grasslands. Each fertilization treatment determined species with indicator value that are very useful in the identification and management of HNV grasslands. The dry matter biomass increases proportionally as the amounts of fertilizer applied increase and the number of species decreases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity in the Grassland Biome)
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15 pages, 1309 KiB  
Article
Exploration of Soil Functional Microbiomes—A Concept Proposal for Long-Term Fertilized Grasslands
by Vlad Stoian, Roxana Vidican, Păcurar Florin, Larisa Corcoz, Victoria Pop-Moldovan, Ioana Vaida, Sorin-Daniel Vâtcă, Valentina Ancuța Stoian and Anca Pleșa
Plants 2022, 11(9), 1253; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11091253 - 05 May 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2028
Abstract
Exploring grassland microbiomes is a challenge in the current context of linking soil microorganism activity with the balance of these ecosystems. Microbiologists are constantly attempting to develop faster and lower-cost methods, and propose new and best-fitted indicators that will provide a more complex [...] Read more.
Exploring grassland microbiomes is a challenge in the current context of linking soil microorganism activity with the balance of these ecosystems. Microbiologists are constantly attempting to develop faster and lower-cost methods, and propose new and best-fitted indicators that will provide a more complex data analysis. A different concept was proposed for assessing functional microbiomes by splitting the functional ecological niche into complementary segments. The comparison with the upper and lower limits of the ecological niche provides a clearer image of community alterations due to long-term applied treatments. The method allows the extraction of the most sensitive and stable functional guilds, with the extraction of the most critical dominant–codominant functional groups in every segment of the functional niche. The resulting microbial functional–sociological model is ready to use on community-level physiological profile databases and also can be applied backward for vegetation analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity in the Grassland Biome)
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14 pages, 979 KiB  
Article
Medicinal Plants in Semi-Natural Grasslands: Impact of Management
by Marika Kose, Indrek Melts and Katrin Heinsoo
Plants 2022, 11(3), 353; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11030353 - 27 Jan 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2666
Abstract
Semi-natural grasslands (SNG) are valuable for their high biodiversity, cultural and landscape values. Quantitative information about medicinal plants (MP) in SNG facilitates the evaluation of ecosystem services of these habitats. Different literature sources were used to assess the ratio and frequency of MP [...] Read more.
Semi-natural grasslands (SNG) are valuable for their high biodiversity, cultural and landscape values. Quantitative information about medicinal plants (MP) in SNG facilitates the evaluation of ecosystem services of these habitats. Different literature sources were used to assess the ratio and frequency of MP species in several Estonian SNG and to evaluate the impact of management on these values. Lists of MP species according to different MP definition scenarios are available. The ratio of MP species in the local plant species list was the largest in alvars, followed by floodplain and wooded meadows. The average number of MP species in wooded meadows and alvars was about twice of that found in naturally growing broadleaved forest (according to the most detailed MP species list, 7.2, 7.8 and 4.3 plot−1, respectively). Fertilization of wooded meadows had no significant impact on MP species ratio, but decreased the percentage of MP biomass. Coastal meadows had few MP species and the impact of management quality depended on adopted MP scenarios. Comparison of Ellenberg indicator values revealed that MP species were more drought-tolerant, with higher commonness and more anthropophyte than the rest of studied grassland species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity in the Grassland Biome)
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20 pages, 1739 KiB  
Article
Changes in Diversity Due to Long-Term Management in a High Natural Value Grassland
by Ioana Vaida, Florin Păcurar, Ioan Rotar, Liviu Tomoș and Vlad Stoian
Plants 2021, 10(4), 739; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10040739 - 09 Apr 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 2170
Abstract
High nature value (HNV) grassland systems are increasingly important for the ecosystem services they provide and for their socio-economic impact in the current constant-changing context. The aim of our paper is to evaluate the long-term effect of organic fertilizers on HNV systems in [...] Read more.
High nature value (HNV) grassland systems are increasingly important for the ecosystem services they provide and for their socio-economic impact in the current constant-changing context. The aim of our paper is to evaluate the long-term effect of organic fertilizers on HNV systems in the Apuseni Mountains, Romania. As an objective we want to identify the optimal intensity of conservation management and its recognition based on indicator value plant species. The experiments were established in 2001 on the boreal floor and analyze the effect of a gradient of four organic treatments with manure. Fertilization with 10 t ha−1 manure ensures an increase in yield and has a small influence on diversity, and could be a real possibility for the maintenance and sustainable use of HNV. Each fertilization treatment determined species with indicator value that are very useful in the identification and management of HNV. The indicator species are useful in forecasting the fluctuations and successions in grasslands, determined by the modification of the dominance-codominance ratio and the real coverage of each species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity in the Grassland Biome)
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Review

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18 pages, 480 KiB  
Review
Impacts of Land-Use Changes on Vegetation and Ecosystem Functioning: Old-Field Secondary Succession
by Javier Pérez-Hernández and Rosario G. Gavilán
Plants 2021, 10(5), 990; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10050990 - 16 May 2021
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 4686
Abstract
The study of ecological succession to determine how plant communities re-assemble after a natural or anthropogenic disturbance has always been an important topic in ecology. The understanding of these processes forms part of the new theories of community assembly and species coexistence, and [...] Read more.
The study of ecological succession to determine how plant communities re-assemble after a natural or anthropogenic disturbance has always been an important topic in ecology. The understanding of these processes forms part of the new theories of community assembly and species coexistence, and is attracting attention in a context of expanding human impacts. Specifically, new successional studies provide answers to different mechanisms of community assemblage, and aim to define the importance of deterministic or stochastic processes in the succession dynamic. Biotic limits, which depend directly on biodiversity (i.e., species competition), and abiotic filtering, which depends on the environment, become particularly important when they are exceeded, making the succession process more complicated to reach the previous disturbance stage. Plant functional traits (PFTs) are used in secondary succession studies to establish differences between abandonment stages or to compare types of vegetation or flora, and are more closely related to the functioning of plant communities. Dispersal limitation is a PFT considered an important process from a stochastic point of view because it is related to the establishing of plants. Related to it the soil seed bank plays an important role in secondary succession because it is essential for ecosystem functioning. Soil compounds and microbial community are important variables to take into account when studying any succession stage. Chronosequence is the best way to study the whole process at different time scales. Finally, our objective in this review is to show how past studies and new insights are being incorporated into the basis of classic succession. To further explore this subject we have chosen old-field recovery as an example of how a number of different plant communities, including annual and perennial grasslands and shrublands, play an important role in secondary succession. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity in the Grassland Biome)
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