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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 and Rudmann-Maurer, Katrin and Weyand, Anne and Stöcklin, 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.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A5251927

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Abstract

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.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Umweltwissenschaften > Pflanzenökologie (Körner)
UniBasel Contributors:Stöcklin, Jürg and Rudmann-Maurer, Katrin
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Bibsysno:Link to catalogue
Publisher:International Mountain Society
ISSN:0276-4741
e-ISSN:1994-7151
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
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Last Modified:13 Nov 2017 14:51
Deposited On:22 Mar 2012 13:45

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