LANDSAUIII: Sheep grazing effects (completed)
Land: Long-term ecological effects of sheep grazing in alpine ecosystems and its integration with management
About the project
We propose to further develop two unique experimental studies in contrasting alpine ecosystems (running from 2000 in Setesdal Vesthei and 2002 in Hol) to address several important new research questions: The overall aim is to facilitate sustainable management of sheep grazing in alpine habitats by providing a scientific basis for relating management alternatives (sheep density) to specific long-term ecological effects of grazing. The initial 6-8 yrs of these two sheep grazing experiments revealed that short-term effects differ for plants, invertebrates, rodents and birds. In addition, effects depend on factors like sheep density and habitat productivity. However, these short-term impacts may differ from long-term ones, because many effects are likely to be indirect, mediated through plants and processes in the soil. Specific objectives are to perform the first experimental, long-term (10 year) study of sheep grazing effects in two contrasting ecosystems (rich and poor), to assess (1) long-term and cascading ecosystem effects; (2) tree-line dynamics along a taiga-tundra ecotone and (3) soil physical and biogeochemical processes and properties; (4) to link density dependent sheep grazing ecology and life history to long-term plant development to understand better how climate and density affect ungulate life history at different temporal scales, and (5) to integrate data from ecological experiments with management scale data on animal density and satellite derived vegetation maps (i.e. up-scaling processes). Our previous project has already demonstrated a direct impact on management in the Setesdal Vesthei and Hardangervidda region, and the outcomes from this proposal will be applicable to sheep grazing in alpine areas and also relevant to semi-domestic reindeer (summer) grazing management.
This project is funded by the Research Council of Norway.
Start: 1.1.2008. End: 31.12.2012.