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.
All over the world, rural communities developed mainly stable and sustainable, traditional (extensive) land use systems to manage natural resources. Resource management and related traditional ecological knowledge based on understanding of the functioning of the ecosystem help local communities to maintain important resources, like forests. Forest plays an important socio-economic role in the life of rural communities. Wood is one of the most elemental raw materials used in households, but its non-timber benefits play just as important a role.
We examined sustainable use of forests in a Csángó community in Gyimes region (Eastern Carpathians, Romania), providing insights into attitudes within folk forestry towards natural resources, driving forces, and changes in human relations with the forest.
Wood as a raw material is a resource that largely determines the daily life of the Csángó community, while non-timber products (e.g., forest grazing, forest fruits, herbs) play a complementary, yet important role in Gyimes life. The survey of forest flora and vegetation confirms that Gyimes farmers are familiar with the plant species that reach significant coverage in the canopy, shrub and herbaceous layers, they are well versed in the forest types occurring in the landscape, their dynamics, their most characteristic stages in the succession after felling. Overuse is an undisputed and acknowledged part of the forest-management, threatens social-ecological system-flexibility. As long as natural systems are able to renew themselves (forests can regenerate), there is chance for the further use of this important resource and in a broader context there is chance for the survival of the local community as well.