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Effects of different irrigation systems on the biodiversity of species-rich hay meadows

Riedener, E. and Rusterholz, H. -P. and Baur, B.. (2013) Effects of different irrigation systems on the biodiversity of species-rich hay meadows. Agriculture, ecosystems and environment, H. 164. pp. 62-69.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A6212333

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Abstract

The maintenance of traditional management practices is essential for the conservation of the biodiversity of semi-natural grasslands including species-rich hay meadows. In the canton Valais (Switzerland), hay meadows are traditionally irrigated using open water channels. However, since the 1980s, this labour intensive irrigation technique has been increasingly replaced by sprinkler irrigation. This study examined whether the different irrigation techniques (traditional vs. sprinkler) influence the local biodiversity of species-rich hay meadows. In particular, the diversity and composition of plant and gastropod species of eight traditionally irrigated meadows were compared with those of eight sprinkler-irrigated meadows. It was also assessed whether the species of either meadow type differed in functional traits. A high plant species richness was found in the meadows investigated. The study showed that the diversity and composition of plant and gastropod species of hay meadows were not affected by the change in irrigation technique 8–18 years ago. However, a lower grass/forb-ratio was observed in traditionally than in sprinkler-irrigated meadows. Furthermore, irrigation technique affected the leaf distribution and the onset of seed shedding in plants. Thus, the change in the irrigation technique altered only some aspects of biodiversity. Therefore, irrigation system alone does not represent the major factor affecting the biodiversity of hay meadows investigated.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Naturschutzbiologie (Baur)
UniBasel Contributors:Rusterholz, Hans-Peter and Baur, Bruno
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0167-8809
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Last Modified:31 Jan 2014 09:51
Deposited On:31 Jan 2014 09:51

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