Publication details

Regeneration patterns in a Central European dry heathland: effects of burning, sod-cutting and cutting



Year of publication 1999
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Plant Ecology
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Ecology
Keywords Calluna vulgaris; Management; Nature conservation; Plant communities; Secondary succession; Vegetation
Description Vegetation development in dry heathlands was studied during a six-year period following experimental burning, sod-cutting and cutting in a continental area in the southern part of the Czech Republic (Podyjí National Park). Calluna vulgaris-dominated heathlands in the area were composed of uneven-aged stands and had been unmanaged for several decades. The aim of the study was testing the applicability of Western European management systems to nature conservation in a continental area. Species composition was recorded in 8 permanent plots using 25 x 25 cm grids, and vegetation recovery following different treatments was analysed. Calluna recovered successfully after burning. Burning dense heathlands, which contained a large amount of woody fuel, resulted in a medium-intensity fire that destroyed moss mats and litter and exposed patches of bare ground to facilitate Calluna regeneration by seed, in addition to vegetative regrowth. On the contrary, in open heathlands with patches of herbaceous vegetation, low-intensity fires which failed to expose mineral soil were more typical. Almost all Calluna regeneration was vegetative in this case, and regrowth was slower. Heathland recovery after sod-cutting to mineral soil depended on whether or not Calluna seed germination occurred in the plot. With germination, the community developed towards heathland; without towards grassland. Cutting promoted a striking increase in grass cover, which was followed by the slow recovery of Calluna. The experiments suggest that of these management systems, burning is perhaps the most appropriate in the study area. A nature conservation management system is proposed, based on sheep grazing combined with rotational burning of restricted patches.
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