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Volume 62, Issue 4


Intensified grazing affects endemic plant and gastropod diversity in alpine grasslands of the Southern Carpathian mountains (Romania)

Bruno Baur
  • Section of Conservation Biology, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, St. Johanns-Vorstadt 10, CH-4056, Basel, Switzerland
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/ Cristina Cremene
  • Section of Conservation Biology, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, St. Johanns-Vorstadt 10, CH-4056, Basel, Switzerland
  • Faculty of Biology and Geology, Babes-Bolyai University, Str. Clinicilor 5–7, 400006, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
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/ Gheorghe Groza
  • Department of Botany, University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, Calea Manastur 3–5, 400372, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
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/ Anatoli Schileyko
  • A. N. Severtzov Institute of Problems of Evolution and Ecology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninski Prospect 33, 119017, Moscow, Russia
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/ Anette Baur
  • Section of Conservation Biology, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, St. Johanns-Vorstadt 10, CH-4056, Basel, Switzerland
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/ Andreas Erhardt
  • Section of Conservation Biology, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, St. Johanns-Vorstadt 10, CH-4056, Basel, Switzerland
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Published Online: 2007-08-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/s11756-007-0086-4


Alpine grasslands in the Southern Carpathian Mts, Romania, harbour an extraordinarily high diversity of plants and invertebrates, including Carpathic endemics. In the past decades, intensive sheep grazing has caused a dramatic decrease in biodiversity and even led to eroded soils at many places in the Carpathians. Because of limited food resources, sheep are increasingly forced to graze on steep slopes, which were formerly not grazed by livestock and are considered as local biodiversity hotspots. We examined species richness, abundance and number of endemic vascular plants and terrestrial gastropods on steep slopes that were either grazed by sheep or ungrazed by livestock in two areas of the Southern Carpathians. On calcareous soils in the Bucegi Mts, a total of 177 vascular plant and 19 gastropod species were recorded. Twelve plant species (6.8%) and three gastropod species (15.8%) were endemic to the Carpathians. Grazed sites had lower plant and gastropod species richness than ungrazed sites. Furthermore, grazed sites harboured fewer gastropod species endemic to the Carpathians than ungrazed sites. On acid soils in the Fagaras Mts, a total of 96 vascular plant and nine gastropod species were found. In this mountain area, however, grazed and ungrazed sites did not differ in species richness, abundance and number of endemic plant and gastropod species. Our findings confirm the high biodiversity of grasslands on steep slopes in the Southern Carpathian Mts and caution against increasing grazing pressure in these refuges for relic plants and gastropods as well as for other invertebrates.

Keywords: Alpine grassland; biodiversity; Bucegi Mts; Gastropoda; grazing; Fagaras Mts; vascular plants

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About the article

Published Online: 2007-08-01

Published in Print: 2007-08-01

Citation Information: Biologia, Volume 62, Issue 4, Pages 438–445, ISSN (Online) 1336-9563, ISSN (Print) 0006-3088, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/s11756-007-0086-4.

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© 2007 Institute of Zoology, Slovak Academy of Sciences. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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