Heterogeneity, disturbance and phytodiversity in a human shaped environment: a comparison of semi-natural and agricultural landscapes in Central Europe
Martin Alt (01/2015)
Support: Anke Jentsch
For decades a worldwide decline of biological diversity has been reported. Landscapes are influenced by several kinds of anthropogenic disturbances. Agricultural landuse, application of fertilizers and pesticides and the removal of corridors simplify and homogenize a landscape whereas others like road constructions lead to fragmentation. Both kinds lead to aconstraint of habitats, reduce living environment and genepool, hinder geneflow and change the functional characteristics of species. Furthermore, it facilitates the introduction of alien species. On the other hand, disturbances of different temporal and spatial dimensions lead to a more diverse landscape because they prevent competitive exclusion and create niches where species are able to coexist.
This study focuses on the complexity of disturbance regimes and its influence on phytodiversity. It differs from other studies that mostly select one or few disturbance types in including all identifiable disturbances. Data were derived from three study sitesin the north of Bavaria and are subject to different land-use intensities. Two landscapes underlie agriculture and forestry, of which one is intensively used and the second one rather moderate and small-scaled. The third dataset was collected on an actively used military training area. The first part of the study deals with the influence of disturbance regimes on phytodiversity, first with the focus on military disturbances, afterwards in comparison with the agricultural landscapes. The second part examines the influence of di sturbance regimes on red-listed s pecies, the d istribution o f ne ophytes a nd g eneralist pl ant species and the homogenization of the landscape. All analyses were conducted on landscape and local scale.
A decisive role was played by the variety of disturbance types, especially in different temporal and spatial dimensions and not by single kinds of disturbances, which significantly was proven in the military training area with its multiple and undirected disturbance regime. Homogeneous disturbance regimes that typically are found in agricultural landscapes led to a reduced species number. On local scale, the abiotic heterogeneity which originated of recent an dhistorical disturbances superimposed the positive ef fects of disturbance regimes, whereas dry and nutrient- poor sites showed a negative effect. Due to a low tree density and moderate treatment species numbers were significantly higher in forest in the training area than in the two agricultural landscapes.
Numbers of red-listed species were positively correlated to the total number of species in all three sites. However, the military training area showed a significantly higher abundance within the area in comparison to the agricultural landscapes where rare species were mostly found on marginal strips. Furthermore, numbers of neophytes and generalist species were lower and consequently homogenization. In conclusion, the military training area is an ideal landscape from a nature conservation point of view. The moderately used agricultural area showed high species numbers and agricultural productivity. However, yield is too low to withstand either abandonment or land-use intensification.