Successful restoration of abandoned terraced vineyards and grasslands in Southern Switzerland

Rusterholz, Hans-Peter and Binggeli, Denise and Baur, Bruno. (2020) Successful restoration of abandoned terraced vineyards and grasslands in Southern Switzerland. Basic and Applied Ecology, 42. pp. 35-46.

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Extensively managed semi-natural grasslands represent species-rich habitats and therefore play a key role for the maintenance of biodiversity in agricultural areas. In marginal and poorly accessible areas, the traditional management of grassland is frequently abandoned, which leads to the spread of forest. In Southern Switzerland, terraced vineyards (a special grassland type) and terraced grasslands are part of the cultural heritage and local biodiversity hotspots. Yet, many of them are overgrown by forest. In the past years, several abandoned terraced vineyards and grasslands have been restored by removing the forest, rebuilding the walls and re-introducing the traditional management. We examined restoration success by assessing plant species richness, diversity and species composition in both the aboveground vegetation and soil seed bank in (1) restored, (2) abandoned for 25–50 years, and (3) permanently used areas of six terraced vineyards and six terraced grasslands. Plant species richness and diversity were reduced and species composition altered in the aboveground vegetation of abandoned vineyards and grasslands compared to the permanently used and restored ones. However, species richness, Shannon-diversity and species composition of the aboveground vegetation did not differ between restored and permanently used areas, indicating a successful restoration of the vegetation 10–15 years after restoration. In abandoned vineyards, species richness of plants emerging from the soil seed bank was slightly higher than in permanently used and restored vineyards. No difference in seedling species richness was found between abandoned, permanently used and restored terraced grasslands. Our results showed that the soil seed bank played a minor role for the re-establishment of the above-ground vegetation. We assume that the large species pool in the surroundings and the presence of dispersal vectors are essential for the successful passive restoration of abandoned grassland in this region.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Umweltwissenschaften > Naturschutzbiologie (Baur)
UniBasel Contributors:Rusterholz, Hans-Peter and Baur, Bruno
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:14 Apr 2021 09:53
Deposited On:14 Apr 2021 09:53

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