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Floristic change in the province of Scania in southernmost Sweden 1800-2020: using fragmented data to study landscape-level shifts

Karlsson, Cassandra (2020) BION03 20191
Degree Projects in Biology
Abstract
Vascular plant observances were compiled for 10 well-documented parishes throughout southernmost Sweden from published floras, herbarium specimens, modern inventories, and a large citizen-science database to provide presence/absence of species from 1800-2020 at the decade level. A regionally-specific database of species-specific plant traits and ecological indicator values was used to examine floristic and ecological changes across an extended timeline which indicates that several of the most apparent conservation issues including climate warming, woody encroachment, and soil chemistry alterations have acted for long over a century. The flora has shifted in favor of species with an affinity to higher N and P levels, a warmer climate, and... (More)
Vascular plant observances were compiled for 10 well-documented parishes throughout southernmost Sweden from published floras, herbarium specimens, modern inventories, and a large citizen-science database to provide presence/absence of species from 1800-2020 at the decade level. A regionally-specific database of species-specific plant traits and ecological indicator values was used to examine floristic and ecological changes across an extended timeline which indicates that several of the most apparent conservation issues including climate warming, woody encroachment, and soil chemistry alterations have acted for long over a century. The flora has shifted in favor of species with an affinity to higher N and P levels, a warmer climate, and which are generally more competitive. Additionally, species with lower requirements for grazing/mowing, sunlight, and moisture have also increased. In general, the landscape has become more homogenous over time. While these findings show that the impacts of human activity on wild plant species have not suddenly materialized, the acceleration of these changes over the past 50 years is evident. Investigations into the utility and limitation of fragmented data that spans centuries reveal biodiversity loss in a more holistic way by incorporating species already locally extinct more than 100 years ago. When combined with trait-based analyses, it is clear that quantifiable and long-ranging anthropogenic effects have shifted which species dominate the landscape in Scania across time and space. (Less)
Popular Abstract
Floristic change in Skåne from 1800-2020

Alarming rates of species decline globally have motivated researchers to identify drivers of ecological change. In Sweden, climate and land use changes are documented drivers of floristic change, and much focus has been given to their accelerating effect on species decline nationally and globally. However, biological data is often only available from modern times which stifles applicability and constrains research scope. The purpose of this study is to investigate the utility and limitations of using historical data from multiple sources to describe vegetative changes in southern Sweden over a 200 year period.

To achieve this, data for 10 parishes was carefully compiled from old herbarium... (More)
Floristic change in Skåne from 1800-2020

Alarming rates of species decline globally have motivated researchers to identify drivers of ecological change. In Sweden, climate and land use changes are documented drivers of floristic change, and much focus has been given to their accelerating effect on species decline nationally and globally. However, biological data is often only available from modern times which stifles applicability and constrains research scope. The purpose of this study is to investigate the utility and limitations of using historical data from multiple sources to describe vegetative changes in southern Sweden over a 200 year period.

To achieve this, data for 10 parishes was carefully compiled from old herbarium specimens, published local floras, and various vegetative surveys that were largely initiated by the Lund Botanical Society. Citizen science observations from ArtPortalen and complete 2019 surveys were also included. The data set was then analyzed using an extensive character trait list, akin to Ellenberg Indicator Values, which has described various ecologically-relevant traits for individual species, such as ideal growing conditions, disturbance regimes, affinities to soil chemistries, and so on. Mean values were calculated for each decade and for each trait.

Results

Overall, the landscape in Skåne has become more homogenous over time, which is well-reflected by historical loss of specific habitat types. Plants with an affinity for warmer and drier climates have increased in concordance with climate warming and historical drainage of wetlands and waterways. Plants which require frequent disturbance and grazing have decreased as can be expected by declines in grazing pastures and meadows since at least the 19th century. Plants with an affinity for Nitrogen and Phosphorus in the soils have increased. Generally, these results are consistent with previously observed trends indicates that the methodology is reasonable and could be used in various contexts.

These findings are also in agreement with previous studies using indicator values in Sweden and internationally, although this study indicates that many of the fairly well-known drivers of change may have been acting for a longer period of time than previously documented. These changes over time may tentatively be used to indicate rates of changes for certain drivers. For instance, a steady increase since 1800 in nitrogen-loving plants has a different connotation than the more rapidly-accelerating trends for plants preferring warmer temperatures. These trends and differing rate of change can provide context for both monitoring and planning of conservation strategy. The combination of historical data and ecological indicator values in Sweden should be pursued further to better understand landscape-level changes to our flora.


Master’s Degree Project in Biology 60 credits May 2020
Department of Biology, Lund University

Advisors: Torbjörn Tyler & Ola Olsson
The Lund Botanical Museum and the Biodiversity Unit of the Department of Biology (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Karlsson, Cassandra
supervisor
organization
course
BION03 20191
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
language
English
id
9028696
date added to LUP
2020-09-09 12:08:03
date last changed
2020-09-09 12:08:03
@misc{9028696,
  abstract     = {Vascular plant observances were compiled for 10 well-documented parishes throughout southernmost Sweden from published floras, herbarium specimens, modern inventories, and a large citizen-science database to provide presence/absence of species from 1800-2020 at the decade level. A regionally-specific database of species-specific plant traits and ecological indicator values was used to examine floristic and ecological changes across an extended timeline which indicates that several of the most apparent conservation issues including climate warming, woody encroachment, and soil chemistry alterations have acted for long over a century. The flora has shifted in favor of species with an affinity to higher N and P levels, a warmer climate, and which are generally more competitive. Additionally, species with lower requirements for grazing/mowing, sunlight, and moisture have also increased. In general, the landscape has become more homogenous over time. While these findings show that the impacts of human activity on wild plant species have not suddenly materialized, the acceleration of these changes over the past 50 years is evident. Investigations into the utility and limitation of fragmented data that spans centuries reveal biodiversity loss in a more holistic way by incorporating species already locally extinct more than 100 years ago. When combined with trait-based analyses, it is clear that quantifiable and long-ranging anthropogenic effects have shifted which species dominate the landscape in Scania across time and space.},
  author       = {Karlsson, Cassandra},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Floristic change in the province of Scania in southernmost Sweden 1800-2020: using fragmented data to study landscape-level shifts},
  year         = {2020},
}