Vegetation dynamics in abandoned crop fields on a Mediterranean island: Development of succession model and estimation of disturbance thresholds
Tzanopoulos, J., Mitchley, J. and Pantis, J. D. (2007) Vegetation dynamics in abandoned crop fields on a Mediterranean island: Development of succession model and estimation of disturbance thresholds. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment, 120 (2-4). pp. 370-376. ISSN 0167-8809
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2006.10.011
This case study on the Sifnos island, Greece, assesses the main factors controlling vegetation succession following crop abandonment and describes the vegetation dynamics of maquis and phrygana formations in relation to alternative theories of secondary succession. Field survey data were collected and analysed at community as well as species level. The results show that vegetation succession on abandoned crop fields is determined by the combined effects of grazing intensity, soil and geological characteristics and time. The analysis determines the quantitative grazing thresholds that modify the successional pathway. Light grazing leads to dominance by maquis vegetation while overgrazing leads to phryganic vegetation. The proposed model shows that vegetation succession following crop abandonment is a complex multi-factor process where the final or the stable stage of the process is not predefined but depends on the factors affecting succession. An example of the use of succession models and disturbance thresholds as a policy assessment tool is presented by evaluating the likely vegetation impacts of the recent reform of the Common Agricultural Policy on Sifnos island over a 20-30-year time horizon. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.