Title Cultural and Biological Diversity of Grasslands in the Swiss Alps
Author/s Markus Fischer, Jürg Stöcklin, Anne Weyand, Katrin Maurer
Year 2004
Journal Grassland Science in Europe 9:293-295
Abstract In the cultural landscape of the Alps potential determinants of grassland biodiversity are topographical situation, cultural (Romanic, Germanic, and Walser) traditions, and land use. In a parcel-based design we are studying the biodiversity of 219 parcels of grassland in 12 villages in the Swiss Alps. We found the occurrence of particular parcel types to depend on land use history and altitude, and more different types of land use history occurred in the valleys of Romanic villages than in those of Germanic or Walser villages. Some formerly mown parcels are now grazed, and other mown and grazed parcels were abandoned, indicating that all changes in land use occurred in the direction of reduced labour. Plant species richness per 5 x 5 m records was higher in parcels at higher altitudes, in unfertilised parcels, and in currently grazed than in abandoned or currently mown parcels. Our research contributes to basic biodiversity research as it reveals the determinants and interrelationships of different levels of grassland biodiversity, and is of applied importance as it elucidates the effect of land use on biodiversity. The fear that the general trend of decreasing agricultural land use will drastically reduce man-made biodiversity in the Alps is supported by our results.
Keywords cultural landscapes · diversity · land use · Poa alpina · Swiss Alps
Contact Jürg Stöcklin: email | webpage | list of publications
Research project How cultural traditions and land use affect grassland biodiversity in the Swiss Alps