Cover estimation versus density counting in species-rich pasture under different grazing intensities

Environ Monit Assess. 2009 Sep;156(1-4):419-24. doi: 10.1007/s10661-008-0494-0. Epub 2008 Sep 12.


Two methods for monitoring of grassland vegetation were compared: visual estimation of plant cover (C) and plant densities counting (D). C and D were performed in monthly intervals for three vegetation growing seasons after imposing different grazing regimes on abandoned grassland in 1998. Species scores obtained from paired redundancy analyses (RDA) of C and D data were compared and Spearman's rank correlations were used to show if the two methods give comparable results. Results of C and D were highly correlated in the first two growing seasons only. In the third season, correlation was substantially lower as the sward structure was more heterogeneous due to creation of differently defoliated patches especially under extensive grazing. Presence of the same plant species with different habit in frequently and in infrequently grazed patches, reduced significance of Spearman's rank correlations. Cover estimation can fully substitute plant density counting in grassland with lower proportion of frequently and infrequently grazed patches only, but caution should be used when comparing different management regimes in long term analyses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Czech Republic
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Geography
  • Plants*
  • Poaceae*