Advertisement

Plant Ecology

, 202:195 | Cite as

Plant diversity declines with recent land use changes in European Alps

  • Georg NiedristEmail author
  • Erich Tasser
  • Christian Lüth
  • Josef Dalla Via
  • Ulrike Tappeiner
Article

Abstract

Against a background of increasing land use intensification on favorable agricultural areas and land abandonment on less arable areas in the Alps, the aim of this investigation was to detect whether and how 10 differently used types of grassland can be distinguished by site factors, plant species composition, and biodiversity. By using a very large number of vegetation surveys (936) that were widely distributed in the Central Alps, site parameters and species composition of the different land use types were compared by discriminant analyses and various biodiversity indices. Results showed that land use is a significant factor affecting the development of different grassland communities with site factors playing a subordinate, yet important role. The 10 land use types studied can be clearly differentiated from one another by single species as well as by species composition. Our study found that the number of plant communities along with the number of species decreases constantly and significantly with increasing land use intensity and on abandoned land. For example, on average, extensively used meadows have more than three times as many species as intensively used meadows. Further, the most even distribution of species (Evenness index) is reached in intensively used meadows, whereas on pastures and abandoned land, some species become dominant forcing other species to recede. The results confirm that due to current trends in agriculture, such as land abandonment and land use intensification, plant diversity in the Alps is decreasing considerably.

Keywords

Land use intensification Land abandonment Alpine meadows Discriminant analysis Evenness index 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Dr. Ruth Willmott, BioScript for the revision of the manuscript, and an anonymous referee for his useful comments. A further thank goes to the Hydrographic Agency of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen, South Tyrol for the climate data and the Federal State of Tyrol/Austria for analyzing the soil samples. This work was funded within the framework of the INTERREG-IIIA projects “MASTA” and “DNA-Chip-Entwicklung zur Charakterisierung und Valorisierung von Bergheu.”

References

  1. Ackermann W, Durka W (1998) Sort 4.0 Handbuch, Authors edition. MünchenGoogle Scholar
  2. ASTAT (2002) 5. Landwirtschaftszählung 2000. ASTAT (Autonome Provinz Bozen-Südtirol. Landesinstitut für Statistik), BozenGoogle Scholar
  3. Austrheim G, Gunilla E, Ollson A, Grontwentd E (1999) Land use impact on plant communities in semi-natural sub-alpine grasslands of Budalen, central Norway. Biol Conserv 87(3):369–379. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3207(98)00071-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bahn M, Cernusca A, Tappeiner U, Tasser E (1994) Wachstum krautiger Arten auf einer Mähwiese und einer Almbrache. Verh Ges Okologie 23:23–30Google Scholar
  5. Bätzing W (1996) Landwirtschaft im Alpenraum – unverzichtbar, aber zukunftslos? Europäische Akademie Bozen (ed). Blackwell Wissenschaftsverlag, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  6. Baur P, Pezzatti M, Rieder P, Schluep I (1999) Langfristige Entwicklung der Agrarstrukturen in Südtirol. Arbeitshefte der Europäischen Akademie Bozen, Fachbereich Alpine Umwelt, BozenGoogle Scholar
  7. Baur B, Cremene C, Groza G, Rakosy L, Schileyko AA, Baur A et al (2006) Effects of abandonment of subalpine hay meadows on plant and invertebrate diversity in Transylvania, Romania. Biol Conserv 132:261–273. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2006.04.018 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beltman B, Van Den Broek T, Martin W, Ten Cate M, Güsewell S (2003) Impact of mowing regime on species richness and biomass of a limestone hay meadow in Ireland. Bull Geobot Inst ETH 2003(69):17–30Google Scholar
  9. Bischof N (1981) Pflanzensoziologische Untersuchungen von Sukzessionen aus gemähten Magerrasen in der subalpinen Stufe der Zentralalpen. Beiträge zur geobotanischen Landesaufnahme der Schweiz 60:1–127Google Scholar
  10. Braun-Blanquet J (1949) Übersicht der Pflanzengesellschaften Rätiens (IV). Plant Ecol 2:20–34. doi: 10.1007/BF00132674 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Braun-Blanquet J (1964) Pflanzensoziologie, 3rd edn. Springer, WienGoogle Scholar
  12. Breitenberger I (2007) Standortfaktoren und Nutzung von ausgewählten Almen in Südtirol. Diploma thesis, Universität InnsbruckGoogle Scholar
  13. Cernusca A, Seeber MC (1989) Phytomasse, Bestandesstruktur und Mikroklima von Grasland-Ökosystemen zwischen 1612 und 2030 M in den Alpen. In: Struktur und Funktion von Graslandökosystemen im Nationalpark Hohe Tauern. Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Veröffentlichungen des österreichischen MaB-Programms, vol 13, Universitätsverlag Wagner, Innsbruck, pp 419–461Google Scholar
  14. Cernusca A, Tappeiner U, Bayfield N (eds) (1999) Land use changes in European Mountain ecosystems. Blackwell Wissenschaftsverlag, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  15. Chemini C, Rizzoli A (2003) Land use change and Biodiversity conservation in the Alps. J Mountain Ecol 7((Suppl)):1–7Google Scholar
  16. Connell JH (1978) Diversity in tropical rain forests and coral reefs. Science 199:1302–1310. doi: 10.1126/science.199.4335.1302 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dalla Via J, Tasser E, Tappeiner U, Baric S, Mair V, Kasal A (2004) Biological-ecological fundamentals of mountain hay certification. Laimburg J 1:95–108Google Scholar
  18. Dietl W (1995) Wiesen und Weiden im Berggebiet. Montagna 6:1–6Google Scholar
  19. Ebner C (1996) Die Wiesengesellschaften des oberen Vinschgaus (Südseite) und ihre Bewirtschaftung. Diploma thesis, Universität InnsbruckGoogle Scholar
  20. Ellenberg H (1996) Vegetation Mitteleuropas mit den Alpen, 5th edn. Ulmer, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  21. Fischer M, Wipf S (2002) Effect of low-intensity grazing on the species-rich vegetation of traditionally mown subalpine meadows. Biol Conserv 104:1–11. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3207(01)00149-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fischer MA, Adler W, Oswald K (2005) Exkursionsflora für Österreich, Liechtenstein und Südtirol, 2nd edn. Land Oberösterreich, Biologiezentrum der OÖ Landesmuseen, LinzGoogle Scholar
  23. Giupponi C, Ramanzin M, Sturaro E, Fuser S (2006) Climate and land use changes, biodiversity and agri-environmental measures in the Belluno province, Italy. Environ Sci Policy 9:163–173. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2005.11.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gómez-Limón J, Fernandéz JV dL (1999) Changes in use and Landscape preferences on the agricultural-livestock landscapes of the central Iberian Peninsula (Madrid, Spain). Landsc Urban Plan 44:165–175. doi: 10.1016/S0169-2046(99)00020-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Grabherr G, Mucina L (1993) Die Pflanzengesellschaften Österreichs; Teil II. Gustav Fischer, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  26. Grabner S (1997) Die Bergmähder des Nationalpark Hohe Tauern in Salzburg. In: Bericht über die 2. Pflanzensoziologische Tagung “Pflanzengesellschaften im Alpenraum und ihre Bedeutung für die Bewirtschaftung”. BAL Gumpenstein, pp 109–116Google Scholar
  27. Grabner S, Heiselmayer P (2002) Diversity of mountain meadows in the inner alpine valley Virgental/Eastern Tyrol. Razprave IV. Razreda Sazu 43(3):167–184Google Scholar
  28. Hard G (1976) Vegetationsentwicklung auf Brachflächen. In: Bierhals E et al (eds) (1979) Brachflächen in der Landschaft. KTBL, SchriftGoogle Scholar
  29. Hill OM (1979) TWINSPAN—a FORTRAN program for arranging multivariate data in an ordered two-way table by classification of individuals and attributes. Cornell University, IthacaGoogle Scholar
  30. Hobhom C (2000) Biodiversität. Quelle & Meyer, WiebelsheimGoogle Scholar
  31. Hodgson JG, Grime JP, Wilson PJ, Thompson K, Band SR (2005) The impacts of agricultural changes (1963–2003) on the grassland flora of Central England: processes and prospects. Basic Appl Ecol 6:107–118. doi: 10.1016/j.baae.2005.01.009 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jacquemyn H, Brys R, Hermy M (2003) Short term effects of different management regimes on the response of calcareous grassland vegetation to increased nitrogen. Biol Conserv 111:137–147. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3207(02)00256-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jensen K, Meyer C (2001) Effects of light competition and the performance of Viola palustris and on species composition and diversity of an abandoned fen meadow. Plant Ecol 155:169–181. doi: 10.1023/A:1013270628964 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Knapp G, Knapp R (1952) Über Goldhaferwiesen (Trisetum flavescentis) im nördlichen Vorarlberg und im Allgäu. Printed exerpt from “Landwirtschaftliches Jahrbuch für Bayern” 29(5/6):239–256Google Scholar
  35. Körner C (2003) Alpine plant life—functional plant ecology of high mountain ecosystems, 2nd edn. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  36. Marini L, Scotton M, Klimek S, Isselstein J, Pecile A (2007) Effects of local factors on plant species richness and composition of Alpine meadows. Agric Ecosyst Environ 119:281–288. doi: 10.1016/j.agee.2006.07.015 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Marschall F, Dietl W (1974) Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Borstgrasrasen in der Schweiz. Schweiz Landwirt Forschung 13:115–127Google Scholar
  38. Maurer K, Weyand A, Fischer M, Stöcklin J (2006) Old cultural traditions, in addition to land use and topography, are shaping plant diversity of grasslands in the Alps. Biol Conserv 130:438–446. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2006.01.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mertz P (2000) Pflanzengesellschaften Mitteleuropas und der Alpen. Ecomed Verlagsgesellschaft, Landsberg/LechGoogle Scholar
  40. Mucina L, Grabherr G, Ellmauer T (1993) Die Pflanzengesellschaften Österreichs; Teil I. Gustav Fischer, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  41. Myklestad Å, Sætertsdal M (2004) The importance of traditional meadow management techniques for conservation of vascular plant species richness in Norway. Biol Conserv 118:133–139. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2003.07.016 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Newesely C, Tasser E, Spadinger P, Cernusca A (2000) Effects of land use changes on snow gliding processes in alpine ecosystems. Basic Appl Ecol 1:61–67. doi: 10.1078/1439-1791-00009 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Pasquali G, Bassetti S, Fumai M, Ghirigato I, Morello P, Ruffini FV et al (2002) Erfolgsfaktoren einer Region: Das “Modell Südtirol”. Edition Raetia, BozenGoogle Scholar
  44. Pavlů V, Hejcman M, Pavlů L, Gaisler J, Nežerková P, Andaluz MG (2005) Vegetation changes after cessation of grazing management in the Jizerské Mountains (Czech Republic). Ann Bot Fenn 42:343–349Google Scholar
  45. Poschlod P, WallisDeVries MF (2002) The historical and socioeconomic perspective of calcareous grasslands—lessons from the distant and recent past. Biol Conserv 104:361–376. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3207(01)00201-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rook AJ, Dumont B, Isselstein J, Osoro K, WallisDeVries MF, Parente G, Mills J (2004) Matching type of livestock to desired biodiversity outcomes in pastures—a review. Biol Conserv 119:137–150. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2003.11.010 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schubiger FX, Dietl W, Bosshard HR (1999) Nährwert von Futterpflanzen und Weiden des Berggebietes. Montagna 6:I–VIIIGoogle Scholar
  48. Spatz G, Weis B, Dolar DM (1978) Der Einfluß von Bewirtschaftungsänderungen auf die Vegetation von Almen im Gasteiner Tal. In: Cernusca A (ed) Ökologische Analysen im Gasteiner Tal. Veröffentlichungen des österreichischen MAB-Programms 2:163–180 Google Scholar
  49. Surber E, Amiet R, Kobert H (1973) Das Brachlandproblem in der Schweiz. EAFV, Bericht, p 112Google Scholar
  50. Tappeiner U, Tasser E, Tappeiner G (1998) Modelling vegetation patterns using natural and anthropogenic influence factors: preliminary experience with a GIS based model applied to an Alpine area. Ecol Modell 113:225–237. doi: 10.1016/S0304-3800(98)00145-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tappeiner U, Tappeiner G, Hilbert A, Mattanovich E (eds) (2003) The EU Agricultural Policy and the Environment. Europäische Akademie Bozen, Fachbereich Alpine Umwelt. Blackwell, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  52. Tappeiner U, Tasser E, Leitinger G, Tappeiner G (2006) Landnutzung in den Alpen: historische Entwicklung und zukünftige Szenarien. Alpine Space Man Environ 1:23–39Google Scholar
  53. Tasser E, Tappeiner U (2002) Impact of land use changes on mountain vegetation. Appl Veg Sci 5:173–184. doi: 10.1658/1402-2001(2002)005[0173:IOLUCO]2.0.CO;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Tasser E, Mader M, Tappeiner U (2003) Effects of landuse in alpine grasslands on the probability of landslides. Basic Appl Ecol 4:271–280. doi: 10.1078/1439-1791-00153 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Tasser E, Walde J, Tappeiner U, Teutsch A, Noggler W (2007) Land use changes and natural reforestation in the Eastern Central Alps. Agric Ecosyst Environ 118:115–129. doi: 10.1016/j.agee.2006.05.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tracy BF, Sanderson MA (2000) Patterns of plant species richness in pasture lands of the northeast United States. Plant Ecol 149:169–180. doi: 10.1023/A:1026536223478 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tremp H (2005) Aufnahme und Analyse vegetationsökologischer Daten. Ulmer, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  58. Väre H, Lampinene R, Humphries C, Williams P (2003) Taxonomic diversity of vascular plants in European Alpine areas. In: Nagy L, Grabherr G, Körner C, Thompson DBA (eds) Alpine biodiversity in Europe. Springer, Berlin, pp 133–148Google Scholar
  59. Wallosseck C (1999) The acidophilous taxa of the Festuca varia group in the Alps: new studies on taxonomy and phytosociology. Folia Geobot 34:47–75. doi: 10.1007/BF02803076 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wegener U, Reichhoff L (1989) Zustand, Entwicklungstendenzen und Pflege der Bergwiesen. Hercynia NF 26:190–198Google Scholar
  61. Wilhalm T, Niklfeld H, Gutermann W (2006) Katalog der Gefäßpflanzen Südtirols. Veröffentlichungen des Naturmuseums Südtirol. Folio Verlag, Wien-BozenGoogle Scholar
  62. Witting B, Richter gen A, Zacharias D (2006) An indicator species approach for result-orientated subsidies of ecological services in grasslands—a study in Northwestern Germany. Biol Conserv 133:186–197. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2006.06.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georg Niedrist
    • 1
    Email author
  • Erich Tasser
    • 1
  • Christian Lüth
    • 2
  • Josef Dalla Via
    • 3
  • Ulrike Tappeiner
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.European Academy of Bolzano/BozenBozenItaly
  2. 2.Institute of EcologyUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  3. 3.Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry LaimburgAuerItaly

Personalised recommendations