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Chen, Yufei, 2024. Impact of horses on year around grazing without supplementary feeding on pastoral herbaceous plants. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Applied Animal Science and Welfare



European grasslands and the biodiversity therein are lost as a result of changes in land use, which
has led to the necessity for the development of effective restoration strategies. This study
investigates the impact of reintroducing a Swedish national breed of horses (Gotland Russ) on
herbaceous plant diversity in abandoned agricultural landscapes in southeast Sweden. Twelve horses
were introduced into three 10-13 hectare enclosures in a three-year (2014-2016) rewilding
experiment. Plant species richness, evenness, and diversity were investigated in both grazed and ungrazed
areas. The results indicated that horse grazing significantly increased herbaceous plant
species diversity and richness, with higher Shannon and Simpson diversity indices in grazed areas.
In addition, the abundance of white clover (Trifolium repens), a signal species beneficial to
pollinators, increased significantly in grazed areas. These findings emphasise the necessity of
integrating large herbivore grazing into ecological restoration practices. In light of the recently
enacted EU restoration law, which aims to restore 20% of Europe's degraded ecosystems by 2030,
this research provides critical insights into scalable restoration methods. The implementation of
rewilding strategies that include large herbivores could enhance the resilience and biodiversity of
European grasslands and forests, thereby aligning with the EU's restoration goals.

Main title:Impact of horses on year around grazing without supplementary feeding on pastoral herbaceous plants
Authors:Chen, Yufei
Supervisor:Thulin, Carl-Gustaf and Garrido, Pablo
Examiner:Tyden, Eva
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2024
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:None
Supervising department:(VH) > Applied Animal Science and Welfare
Keywords:biodiversity, diversity index, Equus, grassland, grazing impact, restoration, rewilding
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Deposited On:13 Jun 2024 07:45
Metadata Last Modified:14 Jun 2024 14:28

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