Effects of Different Grazing Management Methods on Plant Species Diversity and Richness in the Steppe Rangeland of Saveh, Iran
Livestock grazing is a common human-induced activity with direct and indirect effects even on the ecosystems of protected areas. The present study analyzed the effects of different grazing management methods on species diversity and richness in the steppe rangelands of Saveh، Iran. Data were collected from sixty 2×2 m plots within the areas of three، four-years protected range management projects. Margalef’s and Menhinick''s indices، Simpson and Shannon-Weiner indices، and Pielou''s index were used to evaluate plant species richness، diversity، and evenness، respectively. All data analyses were performed in PAST and SPSS. According to the mean values obtained for Shannon-Weiner index، Nemati rangeland (with rest-rotation grazing system and moderate grazing intensity) and Shirali Baglou rangeland (with continuous grazing throughout the year and high grazing intensity) had high species diversity with no significant differences among them. However، Chagneh rangeland (with continuous grazing for six months and fairly high grazing intensity) had the lowest diversity. Low values of diversity indices indicated low species diversity in steppe rangelands. Moreover، Shirali Baglou rangeland had the highest species richness compared to the other sites. In the other three rangelands، both species richness and diversity decreased with increasing the grazing intensity. Despite poor range conditions in Shirali Baglou rangeland، intensive livestock grazing and the consequent rise in invasive species increased species abundance and hence، resulting in species richness and diversity in the area. Although over-grazing throughout the year can promote plant species richness through increasing annual species، consequent soil degradation and instability of rangeland ecosystem can be expected.