Gallego, F; Paruelo, JM; Baeza, S; Altesor, A (2020). Distinct ecosystem types respond differentially to grazing exclosure. AUSTRAL ECOLOGY, 45(5), 548-556.

Here, we evaluate the ecosystem functioning and the ecosystems services supply of different vegetation types (grasslands, shrublands and woodlands) under contrasting management regimes by comparing a protected area with the surrounding landscape, which has been subjected to human disturbance in the Eastern Hills of Uruguay. We propose, based on functional attributes and vegetation physiognomy, a State and Transition Model for the dynamics of the grassland-woodland mosaic. We used remote sensing techniques to: (i) develop a land-cover map of the study area based on supervised Landsat imagery classification, and (ii) compare attributes of the ecosystem functioning (productivity and seasonality) and service supply derived from the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) images provided by the moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor. The land-cover map showed that grasslands and shrublands were the most extensive land covers in the study area. These vegetation types presented higher productivity, seasonality and ecosystem service supply, outside the protected area than inside it. On the other hand, woodlands showed higher productivity, ecosystem service supply and lower seasonality inside the protected area than outside of it. Two axes represented the grassland-woodland mosaic dynamic: (i) the mean annual and (ii) the intra-annual coefficient of variation of the NDVI. Our results highlight that conservation of grasslands, shrublands and woodlands require different management strategies based on particular disturbance regimes like moderate grazing and controlled burns. Moderate disturbances may help to preserve ecosystem services provisioning in grasslands and shrublands. On the contrary, woodland conservation requires a more rigorous regime of protection against disturbances.