Abandonment alters community composition and canopy structure of Swiss calcareous fens

  • Published source details Diemer M., Oetiker K. & Billeter R. (2001) Abandonment alters community composition and canopy structure of Swiss calcareous fens. Applied Vegetation Science, 4, 237-246.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Cut/mow herbaceous plants to maintain or restore disturbance

Action Link
Peatland Conservation
  1. Cut/mow herbaceous plants to maintain or restore disturbance

    A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 1998 in 27 fen meadows in Switzerland (Diemer 2001) found that mown meadows had greater plant species richness and vegetation cover than abandoned meadows, but shorter vegetation with less biomass. Mown meadows contained more plant species than abandoned meadows (mown: 33; abandoned: 27 species/8 m2) and more fen-characteristic species (mown: 16; abandoned: 14 species/8 m2). Plant diversity was also higher in mown meadows (reported as a diversity index). Mown meadows had greater cover of total vegetation (mown: 84%; abandoned: 77%) and mosses (mown: 47%; abandoned: 30%). Vegetation was shorter in mown meadows (mown: 16; abandoned: 24 cm) and total vegetation biomass was lower (mown: 265; abandoned: 320 g/cm2). However, mown meadows contained greater sedge/rush biomass (mown: 146; abandoned: 102 g/cm2). In summer 1998, vegetation was studied in 27 fen meadows: seven mown (each autumn for at least 20 years) and twenty abandoned (not mown for 2–35 years). Each mown meadow was matched with nearby abandoned meadows. Plant species and cover were recorded in four 2 m2 plots/meadow. Above-ground biomass was cut in two 340 cm2 quadrats/plot, then dried and weighed.

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

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