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Long-term functioning of a species-rich mountain meadow under different management regimes

Mašková, Zuzana, Doležal, Jiří, Květ, Jan, Zemek, František
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2009 v.132 no.3-4 pp. 192-202
grasslands, mountains, dry matter accumulation, species diversity, botanical composition, plant communities, altitude, land management, mowing, mulching, sward, fallow, abandoned land, root systems, plant litter, ecological succession, Czech Republic
The aim of this study is to assess the effect of different management practices on mountain meadow plant biomass, species richness and diversity. The experiment was carried out in the Bohemian Forest Mts. at the altitude of 1150-1170m for 10 years. We applied three treatments (mowing, mulching - i.e., cutting and crushing of the sward into small pieces which are left at the site to decompose, abandonment - fallow) to a mountain meadow with dominant Deschampsia cespitosa, Agrostis capillaris, Festuca rubra and Hypericum maculatum. The aboveground biomass was significantly highest in the fallow treatment and lowest in the mown one, the belowground biomass was the lowest in the fallow treatment and the highest in the mown one. The litter accumulation was higher in the fallow treatment than in the mulched one, where, nonetheless, the mulched material persisted for more than one growing season. The treatments significantly affected the plant species diversity and shifts of dominance among certain species were observed. Decrease of the species richness was observed in the fallow plot, while slightly lowered Shannon diversity and evenness were observed in the mown plot. If regular mowing of mountain meadows is not feasible for economic or technical reasons, mulching can represent an economically advantageous alternative. It will temporarily check the successional changes that sooner or later occur in meadows left fallow.