Benefits of conservation-driven mowing for the EU policy species Gladiolus palustris Gaudinin mountain fen meadows: a case-study in the European Alps Benefits of conservation-driven mowing for the EU policy species Gladiolus palustris Gaudinin mountain fen meadows: a case-study in the European Alps

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Vol17 No.9: 2097-2107

Title】Benefits of conservation-driven mowing for the EU policy species Gladiolus palustris Gaudinin mountain fen meadows: a case-study in the European Alps

Author】Marco CANELLA1*, Gianni POLONIATO2, Cesare LASEN2, Simone ORSENIGO1, Graziano ROSSI1, Jonas V. MÜLLER3, Thomas ABELI4

Addresses】1 Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Pavia, Via S. Epifanio, 14, 27100 Pavia, Italy; 2 Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park, Piazzale Zancanaro, 1 - 32032 Feltre, Italy; 3 Millennium Seed Bank, Conservation Science, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Ardingly RH17 6TN, West Sussex, UK; 4 Department of Science, University of Roma 3, Viale Guglielmo Marconi 446, 00146, Roma, Italy

Corresponding author】Marco CANELLA

Citation】Canella M, Poloniato G, Lasen C, et al. (2020) Benefits of conservation-driven mowing for the EU policy species Gladiolus palustris Gaudin in mountain fen meadows: a case-study in the European Alps. Journal of Mountain Science 17(9). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11629-019-5781-4

DOI】https://doi.org/10.1007/s11629-019-5781-4

Abstract】The sword lily Gladiolus palustris Gaudin is protected on European level and listed in Annexes II and IV of the EC Habitat Directive 92/43/EEC. It grows in nutrient-poor, calcareous meadows in central and eastern Europe. Tree encroachment in montane meadows of the European Alps as a result of recent land use changes and the abandonment of traditional farming practices threaten the survival of this species. Conservation-driven mowing is considered a feasible conservation measure for maintaining high species diversity in abandoned semi-natural grasslands. To assess the effects of ten years of biennial mowing on a grassland community in the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park, Italy (Site of Community Importance, Natura 2000 network), ten 25 m2 plots were established whereby four plots were placed in the mowed area, four in the non-mowed area and two in a small non-mowed patch of grassland inside the mowed area. In each plot the following variables were recorded, total percentage of plant cover, percentage cover of woody species, percentage cover of herbaceous species, percentage cover and number of flowering ramets of G. palustris and a complete list of species and their percentage abundance. Mowed plots showed a higher species richness than non-mowed plots. The number of G. palustris flowering ramets and percentage cover increased manifold in mowed plots compared to non-mowed plots. The resumption of mowing for conservation purposes undertaken by the managing authority halted the process of tree encroachment and avoided a drastic change in plant composition. Periodic mowing (every second or third year) was demonstrated to be a cost-effective conservation measure in non-productive grasslands to keep grasses at bay in favour of forbs of high conversation value.

Keywords】Conservation management; Semi-natural habitats; Habitat directive; Montane grassland; Natura 2000 network; Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park