Publication details

Reversing expansion of Calamagrostis epigejos in a grassland biodiversity hotspot: Hemiparasitic Rhinanthus major does a better job than increased mowing intensity



Year of publication 2018
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Applied Vegetation Science
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords Calamagrostis epigejos; clonality; competition; conservation management; dry grassland; ecological restoration; hemiparasite; mowing; Rhinanthus; White Carpathians
Description QuestionsCan hemiparasitic Rhinanthus major originating from a local population suppress the competitive clonal grass Calamagrostis epigejos and reverse its expansion in species-rich semi-natural grasslands? Does sowing seeds of R.major facilitate restoration of target meadow vegetation? Is R.major more beneficial for biodiversity restoration/conservation than increased mowing intensity, a conventional measure to suppress C.epigejos? Locationertoryje National Nature Reserve, Bile Karpaty (White Carpathians) Protected Landscape Area, Czech Republic. MethodsWe conducted a before-after-control-impact experiment in meadow patches heavily infested by C.epigejos: eight blocks, each containing four plots with four treatment combinations: (1) traditional management, i.e. mowing once in summer, (2) mowing in summer and autumn (3) mowing in summer and seed sowing of R.major, (4) mowing in summer and autumn and seed sowing of R.major. Above-ground biomass of C.epigejos and vegetation composition of each of the plots were monitored every year from 2013 to 2016. To assess the effects of treatments, we analysed biomass production of C.epigejos, herb layer cover and vegetation composition. ResultsBoth sowing R.major and an additional autumn meadow cut significantly suppressed C.epigejos. Their effects were additive and of comparable size. Both treatments also had significant but markedly different effects on community composition. Rhinanthus major facilitated directional community composition change towards the regional Brachypodio-Molinetum meadows. In contrast, increased mowing intensity significantly decreased frequency of threatened species, which however may have also been influenced by R.major. ConclusionsSowing of autochthonous R.major seeds was demonstrated as an efficient tool to suppress C.epigejos and facilitate community restoration. It can be combined with an additional meadow cut to further accelerate decline of the grass. The additional cut should however be used as a short-term practice (1-2years) only to minimize potential negative effects of its long-term application on some threatened plant species. The effects of R.major are comparable to those of Rhinanthus alectorolophus reported previously. As a species occurring naturally in species-rich dry grasslands, R.major has a broader and longer-term application potential than R.alectorolophus in ecological restoration and conservation of these communities.

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.

More info