Hemicryptophytes plant species as indicator of grassland state in semi-arid region: Case study of W Biosphere Reserve and its surroundings area in Benin (West Africa)
In semi-arid region managers are facing rapid degradation of grassland. There is a need to determine indicators to be used to detect early change occurring in the grassland for their sustainable management. Thereof, in this study, we explored the reliability of the use of hemicryptophytes as indicator of grassland state in semi-arid region within W Biosphere Reserve and surrounding areas (Benin). Plots of 10 m X 10 m were installed along a land use gradient (from communal lands to the protected area via the buffer zone) in three vegetation types for plant biomass harvesting and hemicryptophytes traits measurement. The hemicryptophyte density, biovolume, tussock size, contact frequency, contribution to total plant biomass and grassland grazing value were assessed and compared between land uses. Findings showed that hemicryptopyte traits were significantly different with the land use type. Hemicryptophyte biovolume and hemicryptophyte contribution were strongly correlated, respectively, with total biomass production and grazing value. The study highlights the relevance of hemicryptophyte as indicators of grassland state that could be used by grassland managers for grassland monitoring, restoration and sustainable use.
Keywords: Grassland monitoring, hemicryptophyte traits, indicators, land use
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