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Sampling basic demographic data

Demography data have been sampled from the study area, Nynäs, during three years for four plant species, Succisa pratensis, Tragopogon pratense, Ranunculus bulbosus and Carlina vulgaris. In total 13 populations were sampled, over a spectrum of habitats. Studies were made in the field using permanent plots at selected target populations, but also using experimental plots subjected to seed addition. The data concern the whole plant life cycles, from flowering and seed production over recruitment to development and survival of established plants. The data have been collected on a yearly basis and used as a basis for further analyses for the other deliverables in the same work package, but also exported to other workpackages in order to perform different tasks relating to comparative studies across Europe. Transition matrix models have been constructed based on the data, and used for simulation models and for analyses of historical and habitat configuration effects on species demography.

Thus, the demographic data are not published separately. Demographic data are used for biological monitoring and risk assessment for endangered species. More specifically they can be used to determine trends in population size and probability of population extinction over a certain time interval, related to ongoing changes in land use. Different species were selected as representatives of existing variation in life cycles, i.e. mainly life span and dispersal ability. These traits were selected because they are fundamental for species response to habitat change and fragmentation. Moreover, data were collected in several habitat types, representing different management.

By assessing how population viability of the target species is related to land use, we are able to predict the consequences of changes in management practices on the possibilities of long-term survival in the landscape. Knowledge of demography and population viability is relevant for agricultural planning, global change in land cover as well as for general ecology and plant biology. Biodiversity assessment is an important task for agricultural planning because a majority of plant species in Europe inhabit agricultural landscapes, particularly those with traditional management. Global change in land cover is therefore basically dependent on species response to land use change.

To assess how species respond to such changes knowledge of variation in demographic performance related to habitat quality is essential. One central aspect is the time-scale of response, relevant for assessing the need for artificial transplantation of endangered species, and the time frames for restoration programmes. Semi-natural grasslands have high biodiversity values and a high recreational value and the preservation of these grasslands is therefore generally important. Since the recreational values largely depend on floristic composition, viability assessments of endangered species are an important tool for conservation. The sampled demographic data can also be useful for further research in population dynamics, risk assessment and landscape ecology. The produced knowledge will also be useful in education, both basic natural science and advanced teaching in ecology at universities.

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