Agricultural land use and biodiversity in the Alps - How cultural tradition and socioeconomically motivated changes are shaping grassland biodiversity in the Swiss Alps

Fischer, Markus; Rudmann-Maurer, Katrin; Weyand, Anne; Stoecklin, Jürg (2008). Agricultural land use and biodiversity in the Alps - How cultural tradition and socioeconomically motivated changes are shaping grassland biodiversity in the Swiss Alps. Mountain Research and Development, 28(2), pp. 148-155. Boulder, Colo.: International Mountain Society 10.1659/mrd.0964

[img]
Preview
Text
mrd%2E0964.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (983kB) | Preview

Alpine grasslands are ecosystems with a great diversity of plant species. However, little is known about other levels of biodiversity, such as landscape diversity, diversity of biological interactions of plants with herbivores or fungal pathogens, and genetic diversity. We therefore explored natural and anthropogenic determinants of grassland biodiversity at several levels of biological integration, from the genetic to the landscape level in the Swiss Alps. Differences between cultural traditions (Romanic, Germanic, and Walser) turned out to still affect land use diversity and thus landscape diversity. Increasing land use diversity, in turn, increased plant species diversity per village. However, recent land use changes have reduced this diversity. Within grassland parcels, plant species diversity was higher on unfertilized mown grasslands than on fertilized or grazed ones. Most individual plants were affected by herbivores and fungal leaf pathogens, reflecting that parcels harbored a great diversity of herbivores and pathogens. However, as plant damage by herbivores and pathogens was not severe, conserving these biological interactions among plants is hardly compromising agricultural goals. A common-garden experiment revealed genetic differentiation of the important fodder grass Poa alpina between mown and grazed sites, suggesting adaptation. Per-village genetic diversity of Poa alpina was greater in villages with higher land use diversity, analogous to the higher plant species diversity there. Overall, landscape diversity and biodiversity within grassland parcels are currently declining. As this contradicts the intention of Swiss law and international agreements, financial incentives need to be re-allocated and should focus on promoting high biodiversity at the local and the landscape level. At the same time, this will benefit landscape attractiveness for tourists and help preserve a precious cultural heritage in the Swiss Alps.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Fischer, Markus

ISSN:

0276-4741

Publisher:

International Mountain Society

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:08

Last Modified:

11 Sep 2015 08:44

Publisher DOI:

10.1659/mrd.0964

Web of Science ID:

000256940200010

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.30114

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/30114 (FactScience: 171887)

Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback