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Biologia

, Volume 62, Issue 4, pp 438–445 | Cite as

Intensified grazing affects endemic plant and gastropod diversity in alpine grasslands of the Southern Carpathian mountains (Romania)

  • Bruno Baur
  • Cristina Cremene
  • Gheorghe Groza
  • Anatoli A. Schileyko
  • Anette Baur
  • Andreas Erhardt
Article
  • 158 Downloads

Abstract

Alpine grasslands in the Southern Carpathian Mts, Romania, harbour an extraordinarily high diversity of plants and invertebrates, including Carpathic endemics. In the past decades, intensive sheep grazing has caused a dramatic decrease in biodiversity and even led to eroded soils at many places in the Carpathians. Because of limited food resources, sheep are increasingly forced to graze on steep slopes, which were formerly not grazed by livestock and are considered as local biodiversity hotspots. We examined species richness, abundance and number of endemic vascular plants and terrestrial gastropods on steep slopes that were either grazed by sheep or ungrazed by livestock in two areas of the Southern Carpathians. On calcareous soils in the Bucegi Mts, a total of 177 vascular plant and 19 gastropod species were recorded. Twelve plant species (6.8%) and three gastropod species (15.8%) were endemic to the Carpathians. Grazed sites had lower plant and gastropod species richness than ungrazed sites. Furthermore, grazed sites harboured fewer gastropod species endemic to the Carpathians than ungrazed sites. On acid soils in the Fagaras Mts, a total of 96 vascular plant and nine gastropod species were found. In this mountain area, however, grazed and ungrazed sites did not differ in species richness, abundance and number of endemic plant and gastropod species. Our findings confirm the high biodiversity of grasslands on steep slopes in the Southern Carpathian Mts and caution against increasing grazing pressure in these refuges for relic plants and gastropods as well as for other invertebrates.

Key words

Alpine grassland biodiversity Bucegi Mts Gastropoda grazing Fagaras Mts vascular plants 

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Copyright information

© Institute of Zoology, Slovak Academy of Sciences 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruno Baur
    • 1
  • Cristina Cremene
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gheorghe Groza
    • 3
  • Anatoli A. Schileyko
    • 4
  • Anette Baur
    • 1
  • Andreas Erhardt
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Conservation Biology, Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Faculty of Biology and GeologyBabes-Bolyai UniversityCluj-NapocaRomania
  3. 3.Department of BotanyUniversity of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary MedicineCluj-NapocaRomania
  4. 4.A. N. Severtzov Institute of Problems of Evolution and Ecology of the Russian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia

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