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Semi-natural grassland continuity, long-term land-use change and plant species richness in an agricultural landscape on Öland, Sweden

  • Lotten Johansson
  • Karin Hall
  • Honor C Prentice
  • Margareta Ihse
  • Triin Reitalu
  • Martin Sykes
  • Merit Kindström
Publishing year: 2008
Language: English
Pages: 200-211
Publication/Series: Landscape and Urban Planning
Volume: 84
Issue: 3-4
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

The study characterizes historical land-use change and the development of semi-natural grassland habitats, over 274 years, within a mosaic

agricultural landscape (22 km2) on the island of O¨ land (Sweden). We also explore the relationship between previous land-use, habitat continuity

and present-day vascular plant species richness in grassland patches. Land-cover maps, based on cadastral maps and aerial photographs, were

produced for six time-periods between 1723/1733 and 1994/1997. In 1723/1733, the landscape was dominated by grasslands, with arable land

surrounding the villages. The grassland area decreased throughout the study period and grassland patches became progressively more fragmented.

Present-day grasslands represent 18% of the grassland area in 1723/1733. The land-use structure of the early 18th century is still evident in the

modern landscape. The majority of the present-day grasslands are situated on former common grazing land and have had a continuity of at least

274 years: the remaining grasslands are younger and developed during the 20th century on arable or forested land. The proportion of plant species

that depend on grazing and are characteristic of semi-natural grasslands significantly reflects the continuity and previous land-use of grassland

sites. The study illustrates the way in which information on historical land-use and habitat continuity can help to explain the structuring of plant

assemblages in semi-natural grasslands within the modern landscape.


  • Ecology
  • Physical Geography
  • Rural landscape
  • Land-use history
  • Habitat continuity
  • Aerial photographs
  • Cadastral maps
  • Vascular plant species


  • ISSN: 1872-6062
Honor C. Prentice
E-mail: honor_c [dot] prentice [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor emerita


+46 46 222 89 71

+46 73 596 83 34


Sölvegatan 37, Lund