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The occurrence of Spiraea crenata and other rare steppe plants in Pannonian graveyards

  • V. Attila Molnár EMAIL logo , Viktor Löki , András Máté , Attila Molnár , Attila Takács , Timea Nagy , Ádám Lovas-Kiss , Balázs András Lukács , Gábor Sramkó and Jácint Tökölyi
From the journal Biologia

Abstract

Spiraea crenata was categorised as a species extinct from Hungary at the end of the 20th century. This stepperelic species was rediscovered in 2000 in a rural graveyard (Pusztamonostor). As a result of our recent survey of 294 Pannonian graveyards, we found further 12 localities of S. crenata. We also found 27 populations of further protected plant species, mainly with pontic, pontic-pannonian, Eurasian or continental distribution. We found that the total scrub cover of graveyards with S. crenata was significantly higher than graveyards without this species; this is obviously related to the fact that the individuals of S. crenata were found mostly in edges of the graveyards, where they could survive mowing among high and dense scrubs or small trees. Other factors (geographic position, altitude above sea level, area of graveyards, proportion of grasslands, and proportion of territory covered by graves) were not related to the presence of the species. The total number of other protected species was significantly higher in graveyards with S. crenata. Most of the sites with S. crenata functioned as graveyards during the 2nd Military Survey of the Austrian Empire (1806–1869; 10 out of 13 sites), and the 3rd Military Survey (1869–1887; 12 of 13 sites). The long usage history of these graveyards suggests that the S. crenata individuals – along with other remarkable species – might be remnants of the original steppe vegetation rather than the result of plantations for ornamental purposes. Our results highlight the role of graveyards in the preservation of steppe flora, one of the most endangered component of the European flora.

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to Réka Fekete, Krisztina Nótári, Kristóf Süveges (Debrecen, Hungary) for their assistance during field work and to Gábor Kardos (Debrecen, Hungary) and Eric Freedman (Michigan, USA) for their improvements on the English of our work. We thank Balázs Deák and an anonymous referee for generous reviews. We thank the assistance of Alexander Sennikov (Helsinki, Finland) for providing the distribution map of Spiraea crenata, Mykyta Peregrim (Kiev, Ukraine) and Ivan I. Moysienko (Kherson, Ukraine) for their help to obtain relevant literature. This research was supported by TĂMOP-4.2.4.A/2-11/1-2012-0001 and TĂMOP- 4.2.2.B-15/1/KONV-2015-0001 programs. The instrumental and infrastructural support of OTKA Grants to AMV (K108992), to GS (PD109686) is also highly appreciated. JT and GS were supported by a János Bolyai Research Scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

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Received: 2016-12-14
Accepted: 2017-2-10
Published Online: 2017-5-30
Published in Print: 2017-5-24

© 2017 Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences

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