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Modelling trade-offs between livestock grazing and wader conservation in a grassland agroecosystem

R. Sabatier, Luc Doyen () and M. Tichit

Ecological Modelling, 2010, vol. 221, issue 9, 1292-1300

Abstract: The objective of this study was to model the trade-offs between ecological and productive performance of a grassland agroecosystem. We developed a dynamic model linking grass dynamics controlled by livestock grazing to stochastic population dynamics of two wader bird species with high conservation value. Bird dynamics were driven by both direct and indirect effects of grazing. Viable control framework was used to predict grazing strategies ensuring production and conservation and to generate the whole trade-off curve between ecological and productive performance. Bird population size was used as an indicator of ecological performance and the total number of grazing days defined productive performance. Model results show that conciliating ecological and productive performance implies a temporal shift in grazing sequences. The best ecological performance was obtained at intermediate levels of productive performance. Without grazing or with too low a grazing intensity, it was not possible to maintain any of the bird populations due to the indirect effects of grazing on habitat quality. However, too high a level of grazing implied fast population decline for both populations due to direct negative effects of grazing on nest survival. Field data on current grazing regimes and grass height showed a low proportion of suitable fields in our case study area. This result indicates an antagonism between direct and indirect effects of grazing on wader birds, implying the need of very specific management of grassland. Our results illustrate the fact that European grasslands are anthropic habitats which are highly dependent on human activity. In such habitats, trade-off curves are not expected to be strictly decreasing or increasing.

Keywords: Dynamic modelling; Co-viability; Density-yield function; Trade-off curve; Wader bird; Management (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2010
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2010.02.003

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