Publication details

Exposure-related forest-steppes in the northern Pannonian Basin


CHYTRÝ Kryštof

Year of publication 2019
Type Conference abstract
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Description Forest-steppe landscapes are formed of a complex mosaic of physiognomically contrasting habitats (forests and grasslands) and thus are generally species-richer than the landscapes formed of habitats of similar physiognomy. In the northern Pannonian Basin, the majority of forest-steppes are exposure-related, i.e. steppe is occupying the south exposure of otherwise forested hills. Historically most of these sites were influenced by extensive farming, but nowadays are mostly abandoned or managed for conservation purposes. They harbour a high number of rare or endangered species and supply a wide spectrum of environmental services. This study is aiming: (i) to identify sites in the northern Pannonian Basin in which the exposure-related forest-steppe vegetation mosaics are well developed; (ii) to describe individual habitats of the exposure-related forest-steppe ecosystems; (iii) to characterize vegetation dynamics at the forest-steppe boundary in the exposure-related forest-steppe by analysing the pattern of woody species regeneration; (iv) to compare plant species diversity of exposure-related forest-steppe sites on different bedrocks. The study was conducted in different regions of the northern Pannonian Basin: the hilly landscape of southern Moravia (CZ), limestone hills of the westernmost Carpathians (AT, CZ, SK), Hungarian Central Range (H) and the Transcarpathian Lowland (UA). Sites with well-developed exposure-related forest-steppe ecosystems (n = 17) were chosen, and on each of them, all physiognomy-defined habitats (i.e. forest, steppe and the ecotones between them) were sampled along a transect. All individuals of woody species including juveniles were sampled in 1 m intervals. The floristic differentiation of forest-steppe habitats was assessed using principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) and through the fidelity of species to certain habitats. The density of woody seedlings was compared among all the habitats. The floristic differentiation between habitats in the forest-steppe mosaic is relatively low, and a high number of species is shared between neighbouring habitats. Species composition of ecotones was observed to be intermediate between steppes and forests. The species richness of ecotones was observed to be higher than that of forests and not significantly different from that of steppes. Juveniles of woody species occurred most frequently in forests, while in steppe they were sparse or missing. Few species appeared to have an affinity to some forest-steppe habitats. This study contributes to understanding of the patterns and processes that maintain plant diversity in the exposure-related forest-steppe landscapes by comparing individual components of this landscape mosaic in various regions at the western border of the Eurasian forest-steppe biome.

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