Alpine grasslands harbour species-rich communities of plants and invertebrates. We examined how environmental variables and anthropogenic impact shape species richness and community structure of terrestrial gastropods in alpine grasslands in the Val Müstair (Eastern Alps, Switzerland). Gastropods were sampled using a standardised method at 76 sites spanning an elevation range from 1430 m to 2770 m. A total of 4763 specimens representing 52 species were recorded. Correspondence analysis based on presence/absence data revealed that the grassland gastropod community was structured in a complex way with elevation, wetness, grazing intensity and inclination of the sites as key factors, while abundance-based analysis identified the importance of the elevation and wetness of sites. Generalized linear model showed that species richness decreased with increasing elevation and increased with increasing soil pH. The grassland gastropod communities were characterized by a high beta diversity, as indicated by the SDR-simplex analysis. Species-specific traits of gastropods showed sensitivity to the environmental characters of the sites, as shown by a fourth-corner analysis.
Authors:M. Cooper, P. Clarke, W. Robertson, I. McPharlin, and R. Jeffrey
Sandy soils of the coastal plain area of Western Australia have poor phosphorous retention capacity which leads to pollution of surface water bodies in the region. Application of bauxite mining residues (termed red mud) to vegetable and crops has been proposed as a solution to increase the phosphorous and water retention and thereby reduce the leaching of nutrients. The thorium and radium-226 concentrations in the red mud residues are in excess of 1 kBq/kg and 300 Bq/kg, respectively. Potentially, the use of these residues on agricultural land could result in increased levels of radionuclides in food crops grown in amended soils. The transfer of long-lived radionuclides of both the natural thorium and uranium series to a variety of vegetable crops grown under controlled conditions is investigated. The effects of varying the rates of application of red mud and phosphate fertilisers on radionuclide uptake are studied. It has been shown previously that fallout caesium-137 in sandy soils of the region transfers readily to food and grazing crops. Some of the parameters which influence that transfer are also examined.
Authors:Katalin Priskin, Gyöngyvér Tömöry, Erika Bogácsi-Szabó, Bernadett Csányi, and I. Raskó
, the wild aurochs is believed to be the ancestor of European domestic cattle,
. The geography and climate of the Great Hungarian Plain were well suited for these large grazing animals in the Late Neolithic. Till now, there are just a few aurochs mtDNA fragments available from two geographically restricted area, the British Isles and Italy. To increase our knowledge about the genetics of the European aurochsen livestock, and to investigate the phylogenetic position of a late Neolithic aurochs, excavated from the Carpathian Basin, mitochondrial DNA was extracted from a fragment of corpus mandibulae using ancient-DNA techniques and a portion of mitochondrial hypervariable region was amplified by PCR. The resulting sequence was aligned with GenBank sequences of 11 aurochsen. Our new sequence is identical with the sequence of two British aurochs. The 6000-year-old Hungarian aurochs shows a mtDNA sequence pattern, that occurs only among 6–12,000-year-old North European aurochsen, and it does not occur among modern, domesticated cattle.
Authors:A. Csecserits, R. Szabó, M. Halassy, and T. Rédei
We studied the vegetation of 54 sandy old-fields abandoned at different times. We first surveyed the vegetation in 1998 and developed predictions about the spontaneous succession using the chronosequence approach. Afterwards, we repeated the survey in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003, and based on this monitoring we tested the predictions of the chronosequence study. For both approaches, we analysed the changes in functional group composition during succession. According to the chronosequence study, the most important changes occurred in the youngest old-fields, abandoned 1–4 years ago: the species number and abundance of annuals, disturbance-requiring and anthropogenic species decreased, and those of perennials, grassland generalists, and species with low disturbance-tolerance increased. No changes were predicted for the older fields. The monitoring confirmed the predictions for the youngest old-fields. However, during the 5 years of monitoring several functional groups changed in their species number or abundance even on the older abandoned fields. Both of the methods showed that secondary succession on sandy old-fields is relatively fast. The chronosequence study provided a more static view of the processes, while the multi-year monitoring revealed that there were considerable inter-annual changes as well. With the yearly monitoring we can detect the effect of additional factors, such as land use changes (e.g., changes in grazing intensity) and yearly climate fluctuations on the direction and rate of secondary succession.
Puszta is a widely known phenomenon that primarily denotes a deserted countryside and not the flat areas, vegetation, cattle grazing and some picturesque landscape items that are usually associated with. In Southern Transdanubia, a borderline during Ottoman rule for 143 years, settlement desertion became a crucial and overwhelming factor from 1543 to 1686. My paper addresses the age of reorganization (1686–1720), right after the Ottomans were defeated, and focuses on land use and the general appearance of the land. There are two major views on this situation. Some historians hold that the elaboration took place in a scarcely populated and “wild,” natural area, thus the process of colonization was inevitable. Meanwhile, other scholars who worked with local archival sources have pointed out that plenty of families survived there whose livelihood changed during the Ottoman occupation but they filled the land with human activities. This resulted in a different type of land structure, which was far from the so-called medieval landscape.
In my paper I follow the second theory and depict the landscape in a minor area on the basis of archival data. I analyze the practices of land use in order to show the way the “puszta” did and did not exist. I also investigate the key factors that affected a new landscape shift, which brought about the colonial landscape.
We study the structure of two contrasting alpine forest.pasture ecotones located in the Central Pyrenees (sites Ordesa and Tessó). We define ecotone structure as the spatial distribution of trees of different size classes and growth-forms, and the relationship between these aspects and the spatial distribution of understory vegetation and substrate. The studied ecotones are dominated by Pinus uncinata and have been little affected by recent anthropogenic disturbances (logging, grazing). One rectangular plot (30 x 140 m2) was located within each site encompassing treeline and timberline with its longest side parallel to the slope. The distribution of size and growth-form classes at Ordesa followed a clear sequence of increasing size downslope, from shrubby krummholz individuals to bigger arborescent trees. At Ordesa, regeneration was concentrated near the krummholz area and over rocky substrates. At Tessó, regeneration was abundant above the treeline, where the cover of the dominant understory shrub (Rhododendron ferrugineum) decreased. Detrended canonical correspondence analysis of tree and plant cover data, with respect to spatial location in the ecotone and substrate cover, demonstrated that elevation was an important factor controlling the distribution of trees and understory plants in both ecotones. Finally, k-means clustering with spatial constraint revealed abrupt spatial clusters along the slope at Ordesa. However, the ecotone at site Tessó was composed of elongated downslope spatial clusters suggesting greater spatial heterogeneity and subtle gradual changes due to other factors in addition to the altitudinal gradient (snow avalanches). These contrasting structures correspond well with the ecotone (sharp boundary, Ordesa) and ecocline (gradual transition, Tessó) concepts. This suggests the dominant role of different local environmental factors: wind at site Ordesa and avalanches at Tessó. Positive feedbacks, like facilitation among P. uncinata individuals (nurse effect), may maintain and intensify the sharpness of the ecotone at Ordesa.
Changing countryside, society and culture. Contribution to the ethnology of the Bodrogköz region of NE Hungary in the 19th–20th centuries
. Bodrogköz is a historical region comprising some fifty settlements divided by the redrawing of the borders after the First World War: the northern part is now in the territory of Slovakia and the southern part in Hungary. The appearance of the countryside bordered by the Tisza, Bodrog and Latorca rivers was substantially changed by the deforestation and later, between 1845 and 1890, by the regulation of the rivers and flood control measures. The essay examines how the transformation of the landscape influenced the historical processes of peasant farming, the society and culture. Under its influence the earlier difference between the flood plains and the flood-free levels ceased to exist and there was a considerable overall increase in the proportion of ploughland. However, there was a marked decline in the area of grazing land that had provided the fodder for the earlier extensive livestock farming. With considerable differences between villages, the structure of peasant farms shifted towards keeping cattle in barns and in agriculture the role of fodder production greatly increased. The changes percolated through peasant society very slowly: a substantial part of the population continued to farm on infertile land. Many people sought prosperity in America and used the money earned there to buy land in their Bodrogköz settlements. The hierarchy of settlements in the region was also greatly altered by the transformation of the countryside. However, the region as a whole remained disadvantaged and the development of its society is still contradictory even today.