Central European Journal of Biology

, Volume 9, Issue 8, pp 811–822 | Cite as

Effect of altered snow conditions on decomposition in three subalpine plant communities

Research Article
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Abstract

Snow cover and its spatio-temporal changes play a crucial role in the ecological functioning of mountains. Some human activities affecting snow properties may cause shifts in the biotic components of ecosystems, including decomposition. However, these activities remain poorly understood in subalpine environments. We explored the effect of human-modified snow conditions on cellulose decomposition in three vegetation types. Snow density, soil temperature, and the decomposition of cellulose were studied in Athyrium, Calamagrostis, and Vaccinium vegetation types, comparing stands intersected by groomed ski slope and natural (outside the ski slope) stands. Increased snow density caused the deterioration of snow insulation and decreased the soil temperature inside the ski slope only slightly in comparison with that outside the ski slope in all vegetation types studied. The decomposition was apparently lower in Athyrium vegetation relative to the other vegetation types and strongly (Athyrium vegetation) to weakly lower (other vegetation types) in groomed than in ungroomed stands. Wintertime, including the melting period, was decisive for overall decomposition. Our results suggest that differences in decomposition are influenced by ski slope operations and vegetation type. Alterations in snow conditions appeared to be subtle and long-term but with important consequences for conservation management.

Keywords

Decomposition rate Snow Cellulose Ski slope Subalpine vegetation Temperature Hrubý Jeseník Mts. the Czech Republic 

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Copyright information

© Versita Warsaw and Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miroslav Zeidler
    • 1
  • Martin Duchoslav
    • 2
  • Marek Banaš
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Environmental SciencePalacký University, Faculty of ScienceOlomoucCzech Republic
  2. 2.Plant Biosystematics and Ecology Research Group, Department of BotanyPalacký University, Faculty of ScienceOlomoucCzech Republic

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