The role of landuse and natural determinants for grassland vegetation composition in the Swiss Alps

Rudmann-Maurer, Katrin; Weyand, Anne; Fischer, Markus; Stöcklin, Jürg (2008). The role of landuse and natural determinants for grassland vegetation composition in the Swiss Alps. Basic and applied ecology, 9(5), pp. 494-503. Amsterdam: Elsevier 10.1016/j.baae.2007.08.005

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The Alps provide a high habitat diversity for plant species, structured by broad- and fine-scale abiotic site conditions. In man-made grasslands, vegetation composition is additionally affected by the type of landuse. We recorded vegetation composition in 216 parcels of grassland in 12 municipalities representing an area of 170 x 70 km in the south-eastern part of the Swiss Alps. Each parcel was characterized by a combination of altitudinal level (valley, intermediate, alp). traditional landuse (mown. grazed), current management (mown, grazed, abandoned). and Fertilization (unfertilized, fertilized). For each parcel we also assessed the abiotic factors aspect, slope, pH value, and geographic coordinates, and for each municipality annual precipitation and its cultural tradition. We analysed vegetation composition using (i) variation partitioning in RDA. (ii) cover of graminoids. non-legume forbs, and legumes, and (iii) dominance and frequency of species. Species composition was determined by, in decreasing order of variation explained. landuse, broad-scale abiotic factors, fine-scale abiotic factors. and cultural tradition. Current socio-economically motivated landuse changes, such as grazing of unfertilized former meadows or their abandonment, strongly affect vegetation composition. In our study, the frequency of characteristic meadow species was significantly smaller in grazed and even smaller in abandoned parcels than in still mown ones, suggesting less severe consequences of grazing for vegetation composition than of abandonment. Therefore. low-intensity grazing and mowing every few years should be considered valuable conservation alternatives to abandonment. Furthermore. because each landuse type was characterized by different species. a high variety of landuse types should be promoted to preserve plant species diversity in Alpine grasslands. (C) 2007 Gesellschaft fur Okologie. Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

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:

1439-1791

Publisher:

Elsevier

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:08

Last Modified:

13 Jun 2014 14:48

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.baae.2007.08.005

Web of Science ID:

000258800200004

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/30130 (FactScience: 172076)

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