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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Landscape Context of Grazing Lands in the Northeastern United States

Authors
item Goslee, Sarah
item Sanderson, Matt

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 2, 2007
Publication Date: August 15, 2007
Citation: Goslee, S.C., Sanderson, M.A. 2007. Landscape context of grazing lands in the northeastern united states[abstract]. Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture Program. p. 27.

Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.

Technical Abstract: Much attention has been devoted to the most noticeable impacts of the spread of urban and suburban developments into agricultural areas, including pollution, transportation of agricultural products, and aesthetic effects. Alteration of the landscape may have other, more subtle, effects on agricultural activities by changing landscape diversity, thereby altering the abundances of both plant and animal species. Grazing lands increase landscape diversity in the northeastern United States by providing botanically-diverse grassland areas within a matrix of row crops, forests and development. Between 1998 and 2005, we sampled botanical diversity within 95 pastures on 28 farms from Maryland to Maine. We used the multiscale modified Whittaker plot to characterize the plant communities in these pastures. The 1992 National Land Cover Dataset was used to characterize the land use within a 1000m radius circle surrounding these farms. Land use ranged from 4-95% agricultural, with the remainder primarily forest. A maximum of 9% of the area surrounding these farms had been developed by 1992, although this is rapidly changing in many areas (2001 NLCD data are not yet available for these sites). Total plant species richness was positively related to the proportion of forest cover and negatively related to the proportion of row crops in the surrounding landscape. Richness of forage species was related to neither forest cover nor row crop area. Planned diversity, in this case the richness of forage species, was not related to landscape composition, while total diversity decreased with increasing row crop area. Planned diversity is directly manipulated as part of farm management. Associated diversity consists of species which come in from sources other than direct manipulation. For plants, this requires a source either in the soil seed bank or the surrounding region within dispersal distance for that species. A wider range of propagules may be available in pastures that are surrounded by land uses other than row crops, since one of the goals of intensive agriculture is to maintain a monoculture. Associated diversity may support or provide many of the ecosystems services that agriculture relies on, so understanding the role of landscape context and other factors that may impact it is of importance for improving agricultural sustainability.

Last Modified: 8/29/2014
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