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Data from: Effects of livestock grazing on soil, plant functional diversity and ecological traits vary between regions with different climate in northeastern Iran

Citation

Rahmanian, Soroor et al. (2020), Data from: Effects of livestock grazing on soil, plant functional diversity and ecological traits vary between regions with different climate in northeastern Iran, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.q4b18k3

Abstract

Understanding the responses of vegetation characteristics and soil properties to grazing in different precipitation regimes is useful for the management of rangelands, especially in the arid regions. In northeastern Iran, we studied the responses of vegetation to livestock grazing in three regions with different climate: arid, semi-arid and sub-humid. In each region, we selected 6-7 pairwise sampling areas of high versus low grazing intensity and six traits of the present species were recorded on 1 m2 plots - 5 grazed and 5 ungrazed in each area. The overall fertility was compared using the dissimilarity analysis, linear mixed-effect models were used to compare the individual fertility parameters, functional diversity indices and species traits between the plots with high and low grazing intensity and between the climatic regions. Both climate and grazing, as well as their interaction, affected fertility parameters, functional diversity indices and the representation of species traits. Grazing reduced functional evenness, height of the community, the representation of annuals, but increased the community leaf area. In the sub-humid region, grazing also reduced functional richness. Further, grazing decreased the share of annual species in the semi-arid region and seed mass in the arid region. Larger leaf area and seed mass, smaller height and lower share of annuals were associated with intensive grazing. Species with large LA and seed mass, lower height and perennials can be therefore presumed to tolerate trampling and benefit from high nutrient levels, associated with intensive grazing. By providing a detailed view on the impacts of overgrazing, this study highlights the importance of protection from grazing as an effective management tool for maintaining the pastoral ecosystems. In general, the composition of plant traits across the pastures of northeastern Iran was more affected by intensive grazing compared to climate.

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