A floristic assessment of grassland diversity loss in South Africa
Background: Land-use effects on grassland flora are difficult to predict due to poor understanding of species losses caused by transformation.
Objectives: To determine changes in species diversity and composition by comparing transformed with untransformed grassland.
Methods: Floristics of paired plots were sampled within 18 transformed sites (representing agricultural and urban land-uses) and neighbouring untransformed grassland.
Results: Endemic and threatened species were negatively affected by transformation, particularly species with belowground bud-banks and storage organs. Species composition, with clear shifts in dominant families, was changed by over 90% on average by transformation.
Conclusion: Land-use transformation leads to the loss of native species and increased alien invasive species.
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