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2013 | 61 | 3 |
Tytuł artykułu

Effect of long-term abandonment and spring grazing on floristic and functional composition of dry grasslands in a Central Apennine farmland

Warianty tytułu
Języki publikacji
Semi-natural dry grasslands host some of the most valuable habitats in Europe, due to their biodiversity heritage. Nevertheless, a strong decline in their extension, due to the cessation of traditional management, has been observed in the last decades. The aim of the study was to assess plant community changes due to abandonment and the effect of spring grazing in sub-Mediterranean dry grasslands, focusing on the plant functional traits involved in this turnover. The study area is located in the central Apennines (Italy), where grasslands were grazed by sheep in late winter and spring until 1980 and are nowadays abandoned. Relevés sampled (using the Braun-Blanquet method) in different years, namely in 1976–1980 (grazed pasture) and again in 2010 (abandoned pasture) were compared. Results indicated that abandonment leads to the increase of species richness. Traits and strategies indicator sets were: therophyte for the grazed pasture; geophytes, flower palatability, early flowering strategy, clonal ability and presence of storage organs for the abandoned ones. Traits related to low levels of stress (tolerance strategies) are heavily reduced in grazed systems, and thus the functional composition of plant community is mostly characterised by traits promoting avoidance strategies. In abandoned conditions a higher number of species can co-exist thanks to the micro-scale variation of soil features and niche diversification. The research findings also revealed grazing timing as a key factor for understanding changes of plant functional trait patterns and spring grazing as a threat for orchid species.
Opis fizyczny
  • School of Environmental Sciences, University of Camerino – via Pontoni 5, 62032 Camerino (MC), Italy
  • School of Advanced Studies, PhD Course in Environmental Sciences and Public Health, University of Camerino, 62032 Camerino (MC), Italy
  • School of Environmental Sciences, University of Camerino – via Pontoni 5, 62032 Camerino (MC), Italy
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