Biodiversity and Conservation

, 17:3241 | Cite as

Changes of species richness pattern in mountain grasslands: abandonment versus restoration

  • Dobromil Galvánek
  • Jan Lepš
Original Paper


Changes in plant species richness at various spatial scales were investigated by manipulative experiment in mountain grasslands. The aim of the research was to compare changes in species richness in newly abandoned sites and sites where restoration measures were applied after 20 years of abandonment. The plots were located in two vegetation types with different moisture regime. Species richness decreased significantly after abandonment, mainly at the finest spatial scale of 10 × 10 cm. There was significant increase of species richness on restored sites, but it was apparent mainly at a larger scale. However, even 4 years of regular mowing were not sufficient to restore species richness to the level typical for traditionally managed grasslands in the region. No significant difference was found in the performance of the 2 contrasting vegetation types (wet and dry) in relation to management measures. A significant difference in scale-dependent species richness was only observed. The dry type had a steeper species-area curve, with a lower number of species at the finest spatial scale. According to the results of the experiment, mountain grasslands are very vulnerable habitats, losing their conservation value quickly after abandonment. Restoration is possible due to an extensive species pool in the region, but return to the original species richness at all spatial scales is quite a long process.


Species richness Mountain grassland Abandonment Grassland restoration Western Carpathians Slovakia 



We would like to thank A. Dobošová, J. Galvánková, †V. Gavlas, S. Gavlasová, B. Immerová, Z. Imrichová, M. Kramárová, Ž. Šípková, and A. Viceníková for their assistance on data sampling and to R. Lasák for help with mowing of the experimental plots. We also appreciate comments of Jan Šeffer and other colleagues on the experimental design and data evaluation. Special thanks to Ján Matúš and his family for their kind hospitality during the field work and providing the land for the experiments. The research was supported by WB/GEF project “Central European Grasslands—Conservation and Sustainable Use”. Participation of JL was enabled by grants MSMT 600-766-5801 and LC06073.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DAPHNE – Institute of Applied Ecology, Branch Office ZvolenZvolenSlovakia
  2. 2.Department of Botany, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of South BohemiaCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic
  3. 3.Institute of Entomology of Biological Centre CASCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic

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