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České Budějovice, Czech Republic

Reif J.,DAPHNE Institute of Applied Ecology | Reif J.,Charles University | Marhoul P.,DAPHNE Institute of Applied Ecology | Cizek O.,Hutur | And 3 more authors.
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2011

The European landscape is under pervasive attack of massive land use changes, such as agricultural intensification, urbanization and land abandonment. These changes resulted in population decline of birds living in open habitats. Despite a good understanding on the effects of these driving forces on bird populations, effective conservation actions are difficult to conduct as these forces are closely connected with socioeconomic development of particular countries and thus almost impossible to reverse. It is hence necessary to conserve refuge sites with a limited influence of these negative factors. We surveyed birds in 42 abandoned military training sites (AMTS) in a central European country, the Czech Republic, and we have found these sites are valuable, and to date overlooked, refuges for bird conservation. Birds of high conservation concern and open habitats birds (such as Miliaria calandra, Saxicola torquata or Lullula arborea) were more abundant in AMTS than predicted by their total population size in the Czech Republic. The most important characteristics predicting attractiveness of AMTS for birds of conservation concern were low altitude, low proportion of forest/dense scrubland, high proportion of sparse scrubland/bare ground and large area. Former military activity was beneficial for declining open habitat birds by maintaining moderate disturbance levels, which are rarely found elsewhere in current landscapes. Owing to reduction of armed forces across Europe AMTS provide continental-wide network of high-quality sites for bird conservation. Nevertheless, AMTS are subject to pressure from building activities or loss of openness due to overgrowth of forest or scrub plant communities. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Source


Chytry M.,Masaryk University | Drazil T.,Administration of the Slovensky Raj | Hajek M.,Masaryk University | Kalnikova V.,Masaryk University | And 31 more authors.
Preslia | Year: 2015

We provide an inventory of the sites and vegetation types in the Czech Republic and Slovakia that contain the highest numbers of vascular plant species in small areas of up to 625 m2. The highest numbers of species were recorded in semi-natural grasslands, in which we report four new world records for fine-scale species richness: 17 species of vascular plants in 0.0044 m2 in a mountain meadow in the Krkonoše Mts, 52 and 63 species in 0.25 and 0.5 m2, respectively, in the Kopanecké lúky meadows in the Slovak Paradise (Slovenský raj), and 109 species in 16 m2 in the Porážky meadows in the White Carpathians (Bílé Karpaty). The previous world record of 43 species in 0.1 m2 was equalled in the Čertoryje meadows in the White Carpathians, however, the previous record referred to shoot presence while the new record considers only the species rooted in the plot. We interpreted and corrected the data from the Czech Republic that Wilson et al. (2012) used to compile a list of world records and provide an updated list. The updated list contains five world records from the Czech Republic and two from Slovakia. The most species-rich grasslands and forests in the Czech Republic and Slovakia are concentrated in regions with base-rich soils in the Western Carpathians, especially in the flysch zone in SE Moravia and the Czech-Slovak borderland, and in limestone and volcanic areas in central Slovakia. The richest types of non-forest vegetation include semi-dry base-rich meadows (Bromion erecti and Cirsio-Brachypodion pinnati), base-rich pastures and mesic meadows (Cynosurion cristati and Arrhenatherion elatioris), Nardus stricta grasslands (Violion caninae and Nardo strictae-Agrostion tenuis) and some wet meadows and natural subalpine grasslands. A special type of species-rich herbaceous to open woodland vegetation develops as successional stages on gravel accumulations in Carpathian rivers after severe flooding. The maximum counts of vascular plant species in non-forest vegetation in the Czech Republic and Slovakia are 7 species/0.0009 m2, 11/0.0011 m2, 12/0.004 m2, 17/0.0044 m2, 23/0.01 m2, 37/0.04 m2, 43/0.1 m2, 52/0.25 m2, 63/0.5 m2, 82/1 m2, 88/4 m2, 109/16 m2, 116/25 m2, 131/49 m2 and 133/100 m2. While the maximum counts for plots smaller than 0.5 m2 are from various regions and probably mainly depend on appropriate management, the maximum counts for plots larger than 0.5 m2 are for two areas only, the south-eastern part of the White Carpathians and Kopanecké lúky meadows, suggesting the importance of regionally specific landscape processes for high species richness at such scales. Czech and Slovak forest vegetation is much poorer than grasslands, reaching maxima of 100, 109 and 118 species in plots of 100, 400 and 500 m2, which are considerably smaller than global maxima for temperate forests. Most of the species-rich sites occur on base-rich soils, in habitats with intermediate values of environmental factors, are subject to low-intensity management or natural disturbance, occur in landscapes with large areas of natural and semi-natural vegetation and probably have a long historical continuity. Source


Reif J.,Charles University | Reif J.,Palacky University | Marhoul P.,DAPHNE Institute of Applied Ecology | Koptik J.,DAPHNE Institute of Applied Ecology
Basic and Applied Ecology | Year: 2013

The long history of human influence on northern temperate landscapes has created a mosaic of successional stages, from closed forest to open grassland. Various species thus adapted to different habitats and it is interesting to explore how these differences in species composition among particular successional stages translate into differences at the community level. For this purpose, we surveyed breeding birds in 233 patches of five different habitats covering a gradient from bare ground to forest in 29 abandoned military training sites scattered throughout the Czech Republic. Linear mixed effects modelling revealed that late-successional habitats (dense scrubland and forest) were the most species-rich, whereas early-successional stages hosted bird communities with the highest habitat specialization and threat level. These results suggest that the habitats of late-successional stages are important for the maintenance of high bird species richness, but that early-successional habitats are essential for highly specialized and threatened bird species. Given the highly adverse impacts of agricultural intensification and land abandonment on open habitats, it is necessary to promote factors creating initial successional stages suitable for specialized and threatened species. © 2013 Gesellschaft für Ökologie. Source


Volf M.,University of South Bohemia | Volf M.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Redmond C.,University of South Bohemia | Redmond C.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | And 16 more authors.
Oecologia | Year: 2016

The functional structures of communities respond to environmental changes by both species replacement (turnover) and within-species variation (intraspecific trait variability; ITV). Evidence is lacking on the relative importance of these two components, particularly in response to both short- and long-term environmental disturbance. We hypothesized that such short- and long-term perturbations would induce changes in community functional structure primarily via ITV and turnover, respectively. To test this we applied an experimental design across long-term mown and abandoned meadows, with each plot containing a further level of short-term management treatments: mowing, grazing and abandonment. Within each plot, species composition and trait values [height, shoot biomass, and specific leaf area (SLA)] were recorded on up to five individuals per species. Positive covariations between the contribution of species turnover and ITV occurred for height and shoot biomass in response to both short- and long-term management, indicating that species turnover and intraspecific adjustments selected for similar trait values. Positive covariations also occurred for SLA, but only in response to long-term management. The contributions of turnover and ITV changed depending on both the trait and management trajectory. As expected, communities responded to short-term disturbances mostly through changes in intraspecific trait variability, particularly for height and biomass. Interestingly, for SLA they responded to long-term disturbances by both species turnover and intraspecific adjustments. These findings highlight the importance of both ITV and species turnover in adjusting grassland functional trait response to environmental perturbation, and show that the response is trait specific and affected by disturbance regime history. © 2016 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg Source


Galvanek D.,DAPHNE Institute of Applied Ecology | Leps J.,University of South Bohemia | Leps J.,Institute of Entomology of Biological Center
Plant Ecology | Year: 2012

The management regime may have a significant impact on the productivity and dynamics of grasslands, but the causal relationships influencing grassland conservation value are still not completely understood. Changes of selected community characteristics, such as standing crop, proportion of forbs in the standing crop, litter amount, litter decomposition and seedling recruitment, were investigated in a 4 year manipulative experiment in a mountain grassland in Slovakia. The aim of the research was to compare changes in newly abandoned sites and sites where restoration measures were applied after 20 years of abandonment. The sites were located in areas containing two vegetation types of the Arrhenatherion alliance (wet Poo-Trisetetum and dry Anthoxantho-Agrostietum) with different moisture regimes. The expected increase of the standing crop after abandonment was rather slow, and more pronounced towards the end of the experiment, and in the wet meadow type (~30% increase). The restoration mowing promoted forb proportions in the biomass, but it did not decrease the standing biomass in the restored grasslands. Strong litter accumulation after abandonment was observed in subsequent years after abandonment, when the amount of litter increased about 100% in abandoned plots. Decrease in litter was also significant after the start of restoration mowing (a decrease from 258 to 159 g m -2 in wet type and from 287 to 147 g m -2 in dry type was noted). Accumulated litter was negatively correlated to seedling recruitment (r = -0. 63 at the end of the experiment). The litterbag experiment showed that the wet type has a higher rate of decomposition, with 20% more biomass decomposed during the litter-bag experiment. The experiment confirmed a negative role of litter accumulation on seedling recruitment, with the number of seedlings per m 2 decreasing from 413 to 321 individuals in the abandoned wet-type site. This may lead to a decrease in species richness. Mowing along with raking of mowed biomass may be a useful tool to restore degraded mountain grasslands and to remove accumulated litter from the stands. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Source

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