Grassland Dynamics and Processes of Coexistence

An important topic in grassland research, both from theoretical and applied point of view, is the temporal and spatial dynamics of species abundance and composition. In applied rangeland science, the dominant question is how to manage grasslands for maximal long-term domestic livestock production without degrading the grassland to an extent that would make it unsuitable for further grazing. In applied conservation ecology, the main question is how to promote survival of small and fragmented remnants of natural grasslands. A specific conservation problem in central Europe is that an increasing intensification of agriculture leads at the same time to abandonment of former secondary grasslands maintained by grazing. From a more theoretical perspective, grassland ecologists are interested in the processes and factors that determine the dynamics of grasslands and maintain their biodiversity. Grasslands are good systems to study questions of coexistence and biodiversity in sessile organisms (e.g., vascular plants), because they are relatively easy to monitor, and are less complex than tropical forests or coral reefs but still species rich enough for studying questions of coexistence. Another theoretical question in biogeography is why and under which climatic and environmental conditions grasslands can exist.

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