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  • Author or Editor: Z. Illyés x
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Effective conservation of (semi-)natural grasslands requires an understanding of the factors affecting naturalness (i.e. the actual quality of a habitat or vegetation patch) and the importance of the particular factors. Both local or patch and landscape or matrix variables affect habitat quality, and the proportions of the effects need to be identified. Therefore, we performed a hypothesis generating and testing analysis with generalised linear models on three typical grassland habitat types (forest steppe meadows, Artemisia alkali steppes, and lowland wet meadows), differing in their fragmentation, ecology and history, and representing characteristic types of grassland habitats with the use of the national database of the vegetation of Hungary (MÉTA). Our results, in general, show that naturalness depends upon both intra-habitat and matrix attributes: presence or proportion of other habitat types in the surrounding landscape, threatening factors and landscape ecological attributes. Higher number of habitat types and higher proportions of (semi-)natural habitats in the landscape have significant effects: presence of other grassland types similar in ecological demands to the model habitat positively affect the naturalness, while non-characteristic, secondary or disturbed habitats and invasive alien species have negative effects. However, there are clear differences among the three habitat types, indicating that for effective conservation, good knowledge of conserved habitat types is essential. Landscape or matrix factors, both compositional and structural, affecting habitat patch quality have significant effects that cannot be overlooked. In the case of fragmented grasslands, matrix factors might be even more important than patch or local factors.

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Symbionts and endophytes of Hungarian orchids were studied at diverse habitats. Mycobionts of roots and in situ germinated protocorms of 15 orchid species were identified by molecular methods. Four fungal groups could be distinguished from orchids living at diversely wet treeless habitats: Ceratobasidiaceae, Epulorhiza 1, Epulorhiza 2 and Sebacinaceae. While the groups Ceratobasidiaceae and Sebacinaceae were detected only at habitats with medium water supply, members of clade Epulorhiza occurred at all of the treeless study sites. These observations suggest that fungi belonging to the genus Epulorhiza are more tolerant of water-stress than the other investigated genera. An ascomycetous fungus from the family Pezizaceae could be identified from the roots of Orchis coriophora. Further Ascomycetes were identified at forest habitats. Tuber maculatum was detected from the roots of Epipactis helleborine and Cephalanthera damasonium, and Tuber excavatum from Epipactis microphylla.

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The taxonomy of the genus Bulbocodium , in which two European species, a smaller eastern (B. versicolor) and a more robust western (B. vernum) are included, has been controversial since the description of the eastern species in 1821. Nuclear encoded ribosomal DNA ITS1 and the entire chloroplast DNA ITS were sequenced from several European populations, from France to the Ukraine, and the leaf width of mature living individuals was measured and analysed by ANOVA and Tukey-test. Although the studied DNA regions proved to be invariable, leaf width shows extreme variability. We found no correlation between the leaf size of the individuals and the geographical position of the populations, and in addition, the sequenced DNA regions showed total uniformity. Thus, our results do not support the division of the genus Bulbocodium into two taxa, at least in the sampled area. The formerly described size variants can be treated taxonomically at the forma level.

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