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Loss of habitat specialists despite conservation management in fen remnants 1995–2006


Bergamini, A; Peintinger, M; Fakheran, S; Moradi, H; Schmid, B; Joshi, J (2009). Loss of habitat specialists despite conservation management in fen remnants 1995–2006. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 11:65-79.

Abstract

Many ecosystems of high conservation value have been shaped by human impacts over centuries. Today,traditional management of semi-natural habitats is a common conservation measure in Europe. However, despite traditional management, habitat remnants may still loose specialist species due to surrounding land-use change or atmospheric nitrogen deposition. To detect trends in species density (2-m2 plotscale) and habitat quality in calcareous fens in the pre-Alps of Switzerland, we surveyed 36 traditionally managed fens in 1995/97 and again in 2005/06 (five plots per fen). The fens occurred at three altitudinal levels (800–1000, 1000–1200, 1200–1400 m asl) and were either extensively grazed or mown once a year. Despite these traditional management regimes, species density of fen specialists and of all bryophytes decreased during this decade (vascular plant specialists: -9.4%, bryophytespecialists: -14.9%, all bryophytes: -5.7%). Management had no effect on the number of Red-List species and habitat specialists of vascular plants per plot. However, bryophyte species density was more strongly reduced in grazed fens. Species density of vascular plant generalists increased between the two surveys(+8.2%) but not of bryophytes. Among vascular plants, Red-List species decreased from 1.01 to 0.78 species per plot. Furthermore, between the two surveys aboveground plant biomass, mean plant-community indicator values for nutrients and species density of nutrient indicators increased, whereas mean plant indicator values for soil moisture, light and peat, and species density for peat indicators, decreased. We attribute these changes and the loss of specialist species over the past decade mainly to land-use change in the surrounding area and to nutrient inputs. Thus, despite traditional management, calcareous fens in the pre-Alps
suffer from ongoing habitat deterioration and endangered plant species remain threatened. For their long-term
protection, we suggest to reduce nutrient inputs and, where necessary to restore hydrology and adjust grazing management.

Abstract

Many ecosystems of high conservation value have been shaped by human impacts over centuries. Today,traditional management of semi-natural habitats is a common conservation measure in Europe. However, despite traditional management, habitat remnants may still loose specialist species due to surrounding land-use change or atmospheric nitrogen deposition. To detect trends in species density (2-m2 plotscale) and habitat quality in calcareous fens in the pre-Alps of Switzerland, we surveyed 36 traditionally managed fens in 1995/97 and again in 2005/06 (five plots per fen). The fens occurred at three altitudinal levels (800–1000, 1000–1200, 1200–1400 m asl) and were either extensively grazed or mown once a year. Despite these traditional management regimes, species density of fen specialists and of all bryophytes decreased during this decade (vascular plant specialists: -9.4%, bryophytespecialists: -14.9%, all bryophytes: -5.7%). Management had no effect on the number of Red-List species and habitat specialists of vascular plants per plot. However, bryophyte species density was more strongly reduced in grazed fens. Species density of vascular plant generalists increased between the two surveys(+8.2%) but not of bryophytes. Among vascular plants, Red-List species decreased from 1.01 to 0.78 species per plot. Furthermore, between the two surveys aboveground plant biomass, mean plant-community indicator values for nutrients and species density of nutrient indicators increased, whereas mean plant indicator values for soil moisture, light and peat, and species density for peat indicators, decreased. We attribute these changes and the loss of specialist species over the past decade mainly to land-use change in the surrounding area and to nutrient inputs. Thus, despite traditional management, calcareous fens in the pre-Alps
suffer from ongoing habitat deterioration and endangered plant species remain threatened. For their long-term
protection, we suggest to reduce nutrient inputs and, where necessary to restore hydrology and adjust grazing management.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Bryophytes, Calcareous fen, Grazing, Red-List species, Habitat specialist, Vascular plants
Language:English
Date:2009
Deposited On:26 Aug 2009 15:04
Last Modified:06 Dec 2017 20:23
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1433-8319
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ppees.2008.10.001

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