Grasslands in 'Old World' and 'New World' Mediterranean-climate zones: past trends, current status and future research priorities

Published Date
March 31, 2016
Type
Journal Article
Grasslands in 'Old World' and 'New World' Mediterranean-climate zones: past trends, current status and future research priorities
Authors:
Claudio Porqueddu
Serkan Ates, Mounir Louhaichi, Apostolos P. Kyriazopoulos, Gerardo Moreno Marcos, Alejandro del Pozo, Carlos Ovalle, Mike A. Ewing, Phillip Geoffrey Harwood Nichols

Despite their ecological, economic and social importance,
grasslands in areas with Mediterranean climates
continue to receive limited scientific, political and
media attention. The main objectives of this review
are to compare and contrast dryland grasslands in the
‘Old World’ regions of the Mediterranean basin
(southern Europe, western Asia and North Africa)
with those of ‘New World’ regions with Mediterranean
climates (Australia and Chile) and to identify
common research priorities. The common characteristics
and differences in climate, soils, native vegetation,
importance of the livestock sector and the socioeconomic
background for the different Mediterranean
environments are examined. Past trends and the current
status of temporary and permanent Mediterranean
grasslands are also described. Some common
issues between these regions are as follows: (i) adaptation
to climate change; (ii) increasing persistence and
drought survival of both annual and perennial species;
(iii) the important role of forage legumes; (iv) maintaining
grassland plant diversity; and (v) improved
ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, control
of soil erosion and wildfires, and preservation of
both wild and domestic biodiversity. The favourable
climate in these regions, which allows year-round grazing and the growth of legumes, should be
exploited to improve the sustainability of grasslandbased,
extensive farming systems and the quality of
their animal products, while at the same time improving
ecosystem services. The decreasing support for
grassland research and development programmes
requires increased international scientific and technical
cooperation among the few institutions operating
in the different Mediterranean-climate areas of the
World to provide innovative and sustainable solutions
to farmers.

Citation:
Claudio Porqueddu, Serkan Ates, Mounir Louhaichi, Apostolos P. Kyriazopoulos, Gerardo Moreno Marcos, Alejandro del Pozo, Carlos Ovalle, Mike A. Ewing, Phillip Geoffrey Harwood Nichols. (31/3/2016). Grasslands in 'Old World' and 'New World' Mediterranean-climate zones: past trends, current status and future research priorities. Grass and Forage Science, 71(1), pp. 1-35.