Effects of abandonment of subalpine hay meadows on plant and invertebrate diversity in Transylvania, Romania

Baur, Bruno and Cremene, Cristina and Groza, Gheorghe and Rakosy, Laszlo and Schileyko, Anatoli A. and Baur, Anette and Stoll, Peter and Erhardt, Andreas. (2006) Effects of abandonment of subalpine hay meadows on plant and invertebrate diversity in Transylvania, Romania. Biological conservation, vol. 132, Nr. 2. pp. 261-273.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A5249011

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Recent changes in agriculture (intensification or abandonment) have resulted in a critical reduction of semi-natural grasslands in Eastern Europe. Subalpine semi-natural grasslands in Transylvania, Romania, harbour a high diversity of plants and invertebrates, including endemics, and are considered refugia for numerous threatened open-land species. We investigated effects of land abandonment by examining species richness, species abundance, proportion of open-land, endemic and threatened vascular plants, gastropods, and diurnal and nocturnal Lepidoptera in extensive hay meadows (initial stage), and three seral stages of succession (early stage of abandoned hay meadow, naturally growing birch forest, and mature forest) in the mountainous region of Baisoara in Transylvania. A total of 626 species (225 vascular plants, 16 gastropods, 68 diurnal and 317 nocturnal Lepidoptera) were found in the 16 study sites (four replicates per successional stage). The four taxonomic groups differed in their response to the abandonment of hay meadows. Each stage of succession harboured the maximum species richness for one taxonomic group: extensive hay meadows for vascular plants, abandoned hay meadows for diurnal Lepidoptera, birch forests for nocturnal Lepidoptera, and mature forests for gastropods. In all four taxonomic groups the complementarity of species composition increased with successional age, whereas the number of characteristic open-land species decreased with successional age. The four successional stages did not differ in proportion of red-listed plant and diurnal Lepidoptera species. In nocturnal Lepidoptera, however, the proportion of red-listed species increased with successional age. Furthermore, successional stages did not differ in number of plant species endemic to the Carpathians and Eastern Europe. Our results indicate the high conservation value of all stages of subalpine grassland succession for the indigenous biodiversity of Transylvania. To prevent losses of characteristic species, we suggest a rotational grassland management program that maintains different successional stages.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Naturschutzbiologie (Baur)
05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Umweltwissenschaften > Botanik (Erhardt)
UniBasel Contributors:Erhardt, Andreas and Baur, Bruno and Stoll, Peter
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:22 Mar 2012 14:28
Deposited On:22 Mar 2012 14:04

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