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Browsing by Author "Kangasniemi, Riku"

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  • Kangasniemi, Riku (2023)
    Grasslands occur on every continent except Antarctica and are a key part of agricultural and urban landscapes in many parts of the world. In Finland, many of the grassland species are threatened nowadays. Fragmentation, worsening quality and shrinking area of habitats are the biggest threats to grassland species. Many grassland plants, however, can be found in urban habitats such as road verges, different meadows and rocky outcrops. Suitable urban habitats could be important for these species if the degradation of their habitats continues elsewhere. Indicator species could provide information about the ecological quality of urban habitats and thus the suitability for grassland specialists. My aim for this thesis was to determine how indicator species can be used to assess the ecological quality of urban grasslands by answering the following research questions: 1. Does habitat type affect the abundance and occurrence of known quality indicator species of semi-natural grasslands? 2. Which species are characteristic to different urban grassland habitat types? 3. How different sites relate to each other in terms of vegetation? 4. How do the measures used to answer the other three questions compare together? I collected vegetation data from 28 study sites in the cities of Espoo, Helsinki and Vantaa, southern Finland. In addition, a dataset consisting of 116 sites from these cities, collected by another person, was included here. The study sites were divided into eight habitat types: dry and mesic landscape grasslands, dry and mesic road verges, dry and mesic valuable grasslands, rocky outcrops and valuable rocky outcrops. From all study sites, I collected a list of plant species observed within a standardized time frame by doing an on-site vegetation inventory. In addition, I observed the frequencies of plant species within 1 x 1 m vegetation quadrats. I used one-way ANOVA and Tukey-Kramer test as well as Welch’s ANOVA and Games-Howell test to study the effect of habitat type on abundance and occurrence of semi-natural grassland indicator species. I used IndVal to identify which species are indicators for the habitat types and their combinations. I used NMDS to study the grouping of different habitat types and their species. Habitat type affects the abundances and occurrences of semi-natural grassland indicator species in urban settings and these species can be used in evaluation of the ecological quality of urban grasslands. Indicator species produced from observed data seem to have a limited potential in evaluating the ecological quality of urban grasslands, but they provide a good method for classifying urban grassland habitats, especially valuable rocky outcrops and valuable grasslands. Study sites do form groups according to their vegetation, but these groups do not entirely follow the habitat type division used in the study. With right standardization for the use, indicator species can be a valuable tool in assessing the ecological quality of urban grasslands.