Dry grasslands of the central valleys of the Alps from a European perspective: the example of Ausserberg (Valais, Switzerland)

Open access

Abstract

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.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Amann J. 1933: Flore des mousses de la Suisse Vol. III: Révision et additions. Matériaux pour la Flore Cryptogamique Suisse 7: 1–186.

  • ART/ACW 2008: Schweizerische Referenzmethoden der Forschungsanstalten Agroscope Band 2 E2.056.d Methode pH-C Version 2008.

  • Becker T. 2013: Die Steppenreliktart Astragalus exscapus – eine Schlüsselart der Steppenreste Mitteleuropas? In: Baumbach H. & Pfützenreuter S. (eds.): Steppenlebensräume Europas – Gefährdung Erhaltungsmaßnahmen und Schutz. Thüringer Ministerium für Landwirtschaft Forsten Umwelt und Naturschutz Erfurt pp. 69–90.

  • Berg C. Dengler J. Abdank A. & Isermann M. (eds.) 2004: Die Pflanzengesellschaften Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns und ihre Gefährdung – Textband. Weissdorn Jena 606 pp.

  • Boch S. Allan E. Humbert J.-Y. Kurtogullari Y. Lessard-Therrien M. Müller J. Prati D. Rieder N. S. Arlettaz R. & Fischer M. 2018a: Direct and indirect effects of land use on bryophytes in grasslands. Science of the Total Environment 644: 60–67.

  • Boch S. Ginzler C. Schmidt B. R. Bedolla A. Ecker K. Graf U. Küchler H. Küchler M. Holderegger R. & Bergamini A. 2018b: Wirkt der Schutz von Biotopen? Ein Programm zum Monitoring der Biotope von nationaler Bedeutung in der Schweiz. ANLiegen Natur 40: 39–48.

  • Bornand C. Gygax A. Juillerat P. Jutzi M. Möhl A. Rometsch S. Sager L. Santiago H. & Eggenberg S. 2016: Rote Liste Gefässpflanzen. BAFU Bern 178 pp.

  • Braun-Blanquet J. 1961: Die inneralpine Trockenvegetation. Fischer Stuttgart 273 pp.

  • Braun-Blanquet J. & Richard R. 1950: Groupement végetaux et sols du bassin de Sierre. Bulletin de la Murithienne 66: 106–134.

  • Christ H. 1879: Das Pflanzenleben der Schweiz. Schulthess Zurich 488 pp.

  • Chytrý M. (ed.) 2007: Vegetation of the Czech Republic – 1. Grassland and heathland vegetation. Academia Praha 526 pp. [in Czech with English summary]

  • Crook D. S. & Jones A. M. 1999: Design principles from traditional mountain irrigation systems (bisses) in the Valais Switzerland. Mountain Research and Development 19: 79–99.

  • Delarze R. Gonseth Y. Eggenberg S. & Vust M. 2015: Lebensräume der Schweiz. Ökologie – Gefährdung – Kennarten. 3rd ed. hep verlag Bern 456 pp.

  • Delarze R. Eggenberg S. Steiger P. Bergamini A. Fivaz F. Gonseth Y. Guntern J. Hofer G. Sager L. & Stucki S. 2016: Rote Liste Lebensräume – Gefährdete Lebensräume der Schweiz 2016. BAFU Bern 33 pp.

  • de Mendiburu F. 2019: agricolae: Statistical procedures for agricultural research. R package version 1.3-0. ULR: https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=agricolae.

  • Dengler J. 2009: Which function describes the species-area relationship best? – A review and empirical evaluation. Journal of Biogeography 36: 728–744.

  • Dengler J. 2018: The beauty of xerothermic vegetation complexes in Ausserberg (Rhone valley Switzerland). Palaearctic Grasslands 38: 34–38.

  • Dengler J. Becker T. Ruprecht E. Szabó A. Becker U. Beldean M. Bita-Nicolae C. Dolnik C. Goia I. Peyrat J. Sutcliffe L. M. E. Turtureanu P. D. & Uğurlu E. 2012: Festuco-Brometea communities of the Transylvanian Plateau (Romania) – a preliminary overview on syntaxonomy ecology and biodiversity. Tuexenia 32: 319–359.

  • Dengler J. Boch S. Filibeck G. Chiarucci A. Dembicz I. Guarino R. Henneberg B. Janišová M. Marcenò C. (…) & Biurrun I. 2016: Assessing plant diversity and composition in grasslands across spatial scales: the standardised EDGG sampling methodology. Bulletin of the Eurasian Dry Grassland Group 32: 13−30.

  • Dengler J. Biurrun I. Conradi T. Dembicz I. Guarino R. Naqinezhad A. & GrassPlot Consortium 2018a: EDGG Field Workshops and the GrassPlot database: new opportunities to understand scale-dependent biodiversity patterns in Palaearctic grasslands. Presentation at the 15th Eurasian Grassland Conference of the EDGG Sulmona Italy. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.27660.56969

  • Dengler J. Wagner V. Dembicz I. García-Mijangos I. Naqinezhad A. Boch S. Chiarucci A. Conradi T. Filibeck G. (…) & Biurrun I. 2018b: GrassPlot – a database of multi-scale plant diversity in Palaearctic grasslands. Phytocoenologia 48: 331–347.

  • Dengler J. Gehler J. Aleksanyan A. Fayvush G. & Biurrun I. 2019: EDGG Field Workshops 2019 – the international research expeditions to study grassland diversity across multiple scales and taxa: Call for participation. Palaearctic Grasslands 41: 9–22.

  • Eggenberg S. Bornand C. Juillerat P. Jutzi M. Möhl A. Nyffeler R. & Santiago H. 2018: Flora Helvetica Exkursionsführer. Haupt Verlag Bern 813 pp.

  • Euro+Med 2006–2019: Euro+Med PlantBase – the information resource for Euro-Mediterranean plant diversity. URL: http://ww2.bgbm.org/EuroPlusMed/ [accessed 19 April 2019].

  • Fischer M. A. Adler W. & Oswald K. 2005: Exkursionsflora für Österreich Liechtenstein und Südtirol. 2nd ed. Biologiezentrum der Oberösterreichischen Landesmuseen Linz 1392 pp.

  • Frey H. 1934: Die Walliser Felsensteppe. PhD thesis University of Zurich Zurich.

  • Frey-Huber H. 1952: Exkursion an die Lötschberg-Südhalde – Sonntag den 20. Mai 1951. In: Mitteilungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Bern. pp. 34–35.

  • Janišová M. (ed.) 2007: Grassland vegetation of Slovak Republic – electronic expert system for identification of syntaxa [in Slovak with English summary]. Botanický ústav SAV Bratislava 263 pp. + CD-ROM.

  • Janssen J. A. M. Rodwell J. S. Garcia Criado M. Gubbay S. Haynes T. Nieto A. Sanders N. Landucci F. Loidi J. (…) & Valachovič M. 2016: European Red List of Habitats – Part 2. Terrestrial and freshwater habitats. European Union Luxembourg 38 pp.

  • Juillerat P. Bäumler B Bornand C. Eggenberg S. Gygax A. Jutzi M. Möhl A. Nyffeler R. Sager L. & Santiago H. 2017: Flora Helvetica Checklist 2017 der Gefässpflanzenflora der Schweiz. Info Flora Bern.

  • Koordinationsstelle BDM 2014: Biodiversitätsmonitoring Schweiz BDM. Beschreibung der Methoden und Indikatoren. BAFU Bern 104 pp.

  • Laliberté E. Legendre R. & Shipley B. 2014: FD: measuring functional diversity from multiple traits and other tools for functional ecology. R package version 1.0-12.

  • Landolt E. Bäumler B. Erhardt A. Hegg O. Klötzli F. Lämmler W. Nobis M. Rudmann-Maurer K. Schweingruber F.H. (…) & Wohlgemuth T. 2010: Flora indicativa – Ökologische Zeiterwerte und biologische Kennzeichen zur Flora der Schweiz und der Alpen. 2nd ed. Haupt Bern 378 pp.

  • Marthaler M. Sartori M. Dolivo E. & Bugnon P.-C. 2017: Geologische Karte der Schweiz 153 Raron 25000. Bundesamt für Landestopografie swisstopo Bern.

  • Meier M. K. Urmi E. Schynder N. Bergamini A. & Hofmann H. 2013: Checkliste der Schweizer Moose. Nationales Inventar der Schweizer Moosflora Zurich 31 pp.

  • MeteoSchweiz 2016: Klimanormwerte Visp Normperiode 1981–2010. https://www.meteoschweiz.admin.ch/home/klima/schweizer-klima-im-detail/klima-normwerte/klimadiagramme-und-normwerte-pro-station.html?station=vis.

  • Mucina L. & Kolbek J. 1993: Festuco-Brometea. In: Mucina L. Grabherr G. Ellmauer T. (eds.) Die Pflanzengesellschaften Österreichs – Teil I: Anthropogene Vegetation. Fischer Jena pp. 420–492

  • Mucina L. Bültmann H. Dierßen K. Theurillat J.-P. Raus T. Čarni A. Šumberová K. Willner W. Dengler J. (…) & Tichý L. 2016: Vegetation of Europe: Hierarchical floristic classification system of vascular plant bryophyte lichen and algal communities. Applied Vegetation Science 19 Suppl. 1: 3−264.

  • Nimis P. L. Hafellner J. Roux C. Clerc P. Mayrhofer H. Martellos S. & Bilovitz P. O. 2018: The lichens of the Alps – an annotated checklist. MycoKeys 31: 1–634.

  • Olsson P. A. Mårtensson L.-M. & Bruun H. H. 2009: Acidification of sandy grasslands – consequences for plant diversity. Applied Vegetation Science 12: 350–361.

  • Pignatti S. 2018: Flora d’Italia 3. 2nd ed. edagricole Milano 1287 pp.

  • R Core Team 2018: R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing Vienna. URL: https://www.R-project.org.

  • Roleček J. Tichý L. Zelený D. & Chytrý M. 2009: Modified TWINSPAN classification in which the hierarchy represents cluster heterogeneity. Journal of Vegetation Science 20: 596–602.

  • Roloff F. & Urmi E. 2019: Ceratodon conicus (Hampe) Lindb. In: Swissbryophytes Working Group (eds.) Moosflora der Schweiz. ULR: http://www.swissbryophytes.ch [accessed 11 April 2019].

  • Schaminée J. H. J. Chytrý M. Dengler J. Hennekens S. M. Janssen J. A. M. Jiménez-Alfaro B. Knollová I. Landucci F. Marcenò C. (…) & Tichý L. 2016: Development of distribution maps of grassland habitats of EUNIS habitat classification. European Environment Agency [Report EEA/NSS/16/005] Copenhagen 171 pp.

  • Schnyder N. Bergamini A. Hofmann H. Müller N. Schubiger-Bossard C. & Urmi E. 2004: Rote Liste der gefährdeten Moose der Schweiz. BUWAL Bern. 99 pp.

  • Schwabe A. & Kratochwil A. 2004: Festucetalia valesiacae communities and xerothermic vegetation complexes in the Central Alps related to environmental factors. Phytocoenologia 34: 329–446.

  • Ter Braak C. J. F. & Šmilauer P. 2012: Canoco reference manual and user’s guide: software for ordination version 5.0. Microcomputer Power Ithaca 496 pp.

  • Terzi M. Di Pietro R. & Theurillat J.-P. 2016: Nomenclature of the class Festuco-Brometea in Italy and remarks on the interpretation of articles 1 and 2b ICPN. Botany Letters 163: 307–319.

  • Theurillat J.-P. Aeschimann D. Küpper P. & Spichinger R. 1995: The higher vegetation units of the Alps. Colloques Phytosociologiques 23: 189–239.

  • Tichý L. 2002 : JUICE software for vegetation classification. Journal of Vegetation Science 13: 451–453.

  • Tichý L. & Chytrý M. 2006: Statistical determination of diagnostic species for site groups of unequal size. Journal of Vegetation Science 17: 809–818.

  • Wiesner L. Baumann E. Weiser F. Beierkuhnlein C. Jentsch A. & Dengler J. 2015: Scale-dependent species diversity in two contrasting dry grassland types of an inner alpine dry valley (Cogne Aosta Valley Italy). Bulletin of the Eurasian Dry Grassland Group 29: 10–17.

  • Willner W. Kuzemko A. Dengler J. Chytrý M. Bauer N. Becker T. Bita-Nicolae C. Botta-Dukát Z. Čarni A. (…) & Janišová M. 2017: A higher-level classification of the Pannonian and western Pontic steppe grasslands (Central and Eastern Europe). Applied Vegetation Science 20: 143–158.

  • Willner W. Roleček J. Korolyuk A. Dengler J. Chytrý M. Janišová M. Lengyel A. Aćić S. Becker T. (…) & Yamalov S. 2019: Formalized classification of the semi-dry grasslands of central and eastern Europe. Preslia 91: 25–49.

  • Wilson J. B. Peet R. K. Dengler J. & Pärtel M. 2012: Plant species richness: the world records. Journal of Vegetation Science 23: 796–802.

Search
Journal information
Impact Factor


CiteScore 2018: 1.28

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.344
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.971

Cited By
Metrics
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 106 106 24
PDF Downloads 77 77 13