Publication details

Rocks and walls: natural versus secondary habitats

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Year of publication 2009
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Folia Geobotanica
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Botany
Keywords alien species; chasmophytic vegetation; diversity; Ellenberg indicator values; endangered species
Description Walls are often considered secondary habitats for vegetation of natural rock surfaces. Compared with rocks, walls differ in many features, for example the presence of a binding material (mainly calcareous mortar), location in settlements and exposure to human impact. A data set of 1,205 phytosociological relevés recorded on horizontal wall tops, wall verticals and rock verticals in the Czech Republic was used to compare their vegetation with regard to i) species composition (frequent species, species diversity, endangered and alien species) and ii) the ecological requirements of the respective species. Gamma diversity of vascular plant species was comparable in all habitat types (242 species on wall tops, 212 species on wall verticals and 197 species on rock verticals). Wall verticals had higher beta diversity, but lower alpha diversity than rocks. Remarkable differences were found comparing the diversity of alien species. Whereas alpha and gamma diversities of aliens were higher on both wall habitats, beta diversity of aliens was the highest on rocks. The high floristic heterogeneity of walls is mainly attributable to the large pool of species from the surrounding urbanized landscape (e.g., cultivated ornamental species and synanthropic weeds) that are favoured by high nutrient inputs. In contrast, species characteristic of rocks are mainly substrate specialists. Walls and rocks share the frequent occurrence of ferns, grasses and herbs typical of forest understorey and clearings. Compared with rocks, walls are generally colonized by species requiring higher nutrient content, soil reaction, temperature and moisture. Secondary wall habitats might be suitable for some rare and endangered species, but contrary to rocks their occurrences are only accidental and temporary. The
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