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  • 1 Laboratory of Quantitative Ecology, Department of Ecology, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul Av. Bento Gonçalves, 9500, Porto Alegre, RS, 91540-000, Brazil
  • | 2 Laboratory of Quantitative Ecology, Department of Ecology, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul Av. Bento Gonçalves, 9500, Porto Alegre, RS, 91540-000, Brazil
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A mosaic of Campos grassland and Araucaria forest characterizes the vegetation of the Southern Brazilian highland plateau. Palaeoecological evidence indicates that forest expansion over grassland initiated after the mid Holocene, when climate changed towards present day cool and moist conditions. In this paper, we discuss landscape level changes that occurred on vegetation patterns after grazing and fire exclusion in a mosaic of Campos and Araucaria forest in Southern Brazil. The analysis of aerial photographs from 1974 and 1999 showed alterations on grassland communities under grazing and fire exclusion, especially pronounced shrub establishment near the edge of the forest. Considering the change in the cover of vegetation classes relative to the total altered cover in all classes from 1974 to 1999, the most prominent alterations were: 48% from grassland with tussock grasses dominance (GRA) to grassland with shrubs (GSR), 24% from GRA to grassland with tall shrubs (GTS), 16% from GSR to GTS and 9% from GTS to forest (FOR). Considering the alteration relatively to the vegetation cover in 1974, the most relevant changes were: 44% from GSR to GTS and 94% from GTS to FOR. These observations support a directional forest expansion over grassland under grazing and fire exclusion.

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