Iva Apostolova, Jürgen Dengler, Romeo Di Pietro, Rosario G Gavilán and Ioannis Tsiripidis
The Mediterranean area is a natural biodiversity hotspot that has also been influenced by humans for millennia. Especially the grasslands of Southern Europe have long been known for their diversity and beauty. However, several gaps remain in our knowledge about these grasslands, e.g. for some regions such as the southern Balkans, or taxonomic groups such as cryptogams. Here we introduce a Special Issue with contributions from the 9th European Dry Grassland Group meeting held in Prespa, Greece, 2012. The topic of this meeting was “Dry grasslands of Europe: grazing and ecosystem services” with special focus on Southern European regions. The Special Issue, apart from this Editorial, consists of eight contributions arranged according to the three major topics: syntaxonomy (5 articles), management (2) and conservation (1). The classification papers include descriptions of four new associations and four subassociations. Data about management practices are provided as well. We conclude that dry grassland vegetation in Southern Europe exhibits transitions between different higher syntaxa and thus requires further studies at broader scales to allow better understanding at the supranational scale.
Marta Carboni, Jürgen Dengler, Jasmin Mantilla-Contreras, Stephen Venn and Péter Török
Most semi-natural open habitats in Europe have been traditionally maintained by anthropogenic activities, such as grazing or mowing, preventing the establishment of woody vegetation. These habitats harbour a remarkably rich biodiversity in terms of both plant and animal species, but are also highly threatened, mainly by agricultural intensification and land abandonment. With this Editorial we introduce a Special Issue initiated by the European Dry Grassland Group (EDGG) at the Open Landscapes Conference (Hildesheim, 2013) and the 11th European Dry Grassland Meeting (Kulikovo Pole, 2014). We aim to give a short introduction to the current conservation status, significance and research of semi-natural open habitats in Europe and present the collected articles of the Special Issue. These papers cover a wide range of different semi-natural open habitats, including wood-pastures, heathlands, steppes, semi-dry and dry grasslands across the Palearctic region and address issues related to the assessment methods, threats, management and restoration of these habitats. We conclude that, in order to ensure their conservation and to monitor the changes in open habitats, integrative approaches are needed that take into account not only vegetation records, but also multiple animal taxa, abiotic factors, management practices, ecosystem services and modelling simulations for anticipating possible future scenarios. We also recommend that decision-makers should support actions to conserve open habitats in Europe by addressing such major challenges as the encroachment of woody vegetation. We are convinced that the present Special Issue will contribute to a better understanding of ecosystem functions and support the biodiversity conservation and management of semi-natural open habitats.
Stephen Venn, Didem Ambarlı, Idoia Biurrun, Jürgen Dengler, Anna Kuzemko, Péter Török and Michael Vrahnakis
This report summarizes the activities and achievements of the Eurasian Dry Grassland Group (EDGG) from mid-2016 through to the end of 2017. During this period, the 13th Eurasian Grassland Conference took place in Sighişoara, Romania, and the 14th conference was held in Riga, Latvia. The 10th EDGG Field Workshop on Biodiversity patterns across a precipitation gradient in the Central Apennine mountains was conducted in the Central Apennines, Italy, this time in addition to multi-scale sampling of vascular plants, bryophytes and lichens, also including one animal group (leaf hoppers). Apart from the quarterly issues of its own electronic journal (Bulletin of the Eurasian Dry Grassland Group), EDGG also finalised five grassland-related Special Features/Issues during the past 1.5 years in the following international journals: Applied Vegetation Science, Biodiversity and Conservation, Phytocoenologia, Tuexenia and Hacquetia. Beyond that, EDGG facilitated various national and supra-national vegetationplot databases of grasslands and established its own specialised database for standardised multi-scale plot data of Palaearctic grasslands (GrassPlot).
Jürgen Dengler, Alla Aleksanyan, Didem Ambarlı, Idoia Biurrun, Iwona Dembicz, Anna Kuzemko, Péter Török, Stephen Venn and Michael Vrahnakis
This report summarises the activities and achievements of the Eurasian Dry Grassland Group (EDGG) from January 2018 through July 2019. During the reported period, two Eurasian Grassland Conference (EGCs) took place: the 15th EGC in Sulmona, Italy, and the 16th EGC in Graz, Austria. The 11th and 12th EDGG Field Workshops studied vegetation diversity patterns in the inner alpine valleys of Austria and Switzerland, while the 13th Field Workshop was organised in Armenia. The formerly electronic newsletter of EDGG (Bulletin of the Eurasian Dry Grassland) was transformed into a peer-reviewed international journal, called Palaearctic Grasslands, which now is attracting both scientific and photographic contributions. Furthermore, the EDGG homepage was re-constructed with a new design and content management system. The EDGG has also finalised two grassland-related Special Features during the past 1.5 years in the international journals Tuexenia and Hacquetia, and contributed with eight chapters to the book Grasslands of the World: Diversity, Management and Conservation. The vegetation-plot database GrassPlot, containing standardised multi-scale data from Palaearctic grasslands and closely connected with EDGG, has developed well, as did some other regional and national grassland-focused databases.
Jürgen Dengler, Stefan Widmer, Eline Staubli, Manuel Babbi, Jamyra Gehler, Daniel Hepenstrick, Ariel Bergamini, Regula Billeter, Steffen Boch, Sven Rohrer and Iwona Dembicz
The upper Rhone valley in the Swiss canton of Valais is one of the driest and most continental of the inner-alpine valleys and harbours a rich xerothermic flora. We studied syntaxonomy and ecology of dry grasslands and their species richness patterns. In 2018 we recorded 28 vegetation plots (10 m2) and three nested-plot series of 0.0001 to 100 m2 on the south-facing slopes above the village of Ausserberg. Mean richness of all species ranged from 1.7 on 1 cm2 to 47.3 on 100 m2, with little contribution of bryophytes and lichens. The species-area relationship for total richness closely followed a power function. Modified TWINSPAN yielded a three-cluster solution, which could easily be matched with three orders of the class Festuco-Brometea: Stipo pulcherrimae-Festucetalia pallentis (xeric, rocky), Festucetalia valesiacae (xeric, non-rocky) and Brachypodietalia pinnati (meso-xeric). The subdivision of the xeric types into two orders is new for Swiss dry grasslands, where these types up to now had been joined in a single alliance Stipo-Poion within the Festucetalia valesiacae.