This study was carried out to compare composition, density and diversity of species between dryland and irrigated agroecosystems and between agroecosystems and the marginal grassland ecosystem in dry tropics. Main management characteristics of these ecosystems are: (1) Dryland cropping, low fertilizer input, rainfed (no irrigation) and seed sown rice; (2) Irrigated cropping, high fertilizer, water (irrigation) inputs, flooded rice by transplanting; (3) Grassland, post-rainy season herbage removal and light grazing. All ecosystems showed comparable number (12-14) of species in winter, but in the rainy season higher number of species (21) were recorded in the grassland ecosystem. The species composition of the grassland was entirely different from both agroecosystems (similarity <1%). Dryland and irrigated agroecosystems showed only 25% and 38% similarity with each other during winter and rainy cropping seasons, respectively. Occurrence of few grasses (e.g., Cynodon dactylon, Dichanthium annulatum and Sporobolus diander) in the agroecosystems depends on the propagules dispersed from the marginal grassland. The change from dryland to irrigated agroecosystem involved elimination of 4-5 species during both cropping seasons and simultaneous recruitment of 2 new species in winter and 6 species in rainy season. In both agroecosystems, forbs (C_ type) dominated over graminoids (C_ type) during winter season but the dominance was reversed during the warm, rainy season. During winter some forbs were abundant in both agroecosystems due to their tolerance to widely varying moisture conditions (e.g.,Chenopodium album), others were dominant in either drier soil conditions (e.g., Anagallis arvensis in dryland) or wet conditions (e.g., Melilotus indica and Phalaris minor in irrigated). Higher species diversity occurred in the grassland relative to both agroecosystems. The seasonal trends of species diversity and species evenness were broadly similar in both agroecosystems but irrigated agroecosystem exhibited relatively higher species diversity. The changes in species composition and species diversity in agroecosystems are mainly attributed to differences in water management. The water management in irrigated agroecosystem tends to reduce weed diversity but leads to the dominance of some potentially noxious weeds (e.g., Phalaris minor).
Authors:F. Samu, F. Kádár, G. Ónodi, M. Kertész, A. Szirányi, É. Szita, K. Fetykó, D. Neidert, E. Botos, and V. Altbäcker
Recent environmental and land use changes have made wildfires more frequent in natural habitats of the Kiskunság Sand Ridge on the Hungarian Plain. In a study initiated 2.5 years after an extensive fire that destroyed half of the area of a sand grassland — juniper, poplar forest steppe habitat, we assessed the effects of fire on two generalist arthropod groups: spiders and carabid beetles, as well as on the vegetation. Utilizing the natural experiment situation, samples were taken by pitfalls and suction sampling during a 1.5 years period in four 1 ha blocks, two of which were on the burnt part of the habitat, and two in the unburnt control. At the time of the investigation, in the burnt area the vegetation in the grass layer showed a quick but not complete recovery, while the canopy layer of the juniper bushes burnt down with no sign of regeneration. Carabid beetles and spiders showed differences in recovery after fire. In the carabid assemblages of the burnt parts — compared to the unburnt control — there were over three times more beetles, out of which significantly more represented the macropterous life form and granivorous feeding strategy. There was a higher ratio of pioneer species and a simplified assemblage structure in the burnt area, which meant that the conservation value of the carabid assemblage became lower there. In contrast, for the spider assemblage quantitative changes in abundance and species numbers were not significant, and the differences in species composition did not lead to a decrease in conservation value. Spider species in the burnt plots could not be described as pioneer species, rather they had ecological characteristics that suited the changed vegetation structure. Comparing the two groups, to repopulate the burnt areas, dispersal abilities proved to be more limiting for carabids. However, in both groups a strong assemblage level adaptation could be observed to the postfire conditions. In spiders, species with a stratum preference for the grass layer prevailed, while in carabids individuals with granivore strategy gained dominance. Thus, despite the differences in their speed, basically both assemblages tracked vegetation changes. The effect of future fires will depend on their scale, as well as land-use practices, such as grazing, that interact with fire frequency and recovery. If extensive fires in the future permanently change the vegetation, then it would also lead to a fundamental change in the arthropod fauna.
Aboling, S., M. Sternberg, A. Perevolotsky and J. Kigel. 2008. Effects of cattle grazing timing and intensity on soil seed banks and regeneration strategies in a Mediterranean grassland.