Plant diversity and proxy indicators of ecosystem services were assessed for three structural components of Mediterranean silvopastoral agroforestry systems: WL = cork oak woodlands, WG = cork oak wood grasslands, and OG = open grasslands. Our study was conducted in a long-term observatory located in NE Sardinia, characterized by fragmented land ownership and land use, which generates a patchy landscape that is different from the extensively studied large scale Iberian dehesas and montados. Our research question was focused on assessing whether, a “patchy” land use scenario made of the combination of WL, WG and OG or a “specialized” scenario could provide more plant diversity and ecosystem services than a “dehesa type” scenario including only WG under the same overall tree cover. The results showed that γ and β diversity, species unique to a position, C stock, cork and acorn production, Hemicryptophytes cover, nectariferous species cover, decreased and pastoral value, excellent and good forage species and legume cover, increased along the WL➔WG➔OG land use gradient. Isolated trees in WG and clearings in WL highly contributed to achieving mainly high C stock and plant diversity respectively. The results also showed that the “specialized” scenario can support higher biodiversity and better ecosystem services than the “dehesa type” scenario, but the “patchy” scenario made of all three components proved to support the highest level of both biodiversity and ecosystem services in Mediterranean silvopastoral agroforestry systems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Agronomy and Crop Science