Original paper

Functional and coenological changes under different long-term management conditions in Apennine meadows (central Italy)

Catorci, Andrea; Ottaviani, Gianluigi; Cesaretti, Sabrina


The aim of this research was to study the floristic and ecological changes in sub-Mediterranean meadows due to three kinds of management entailing different disturbance intensities. The theoretic framework follows Grime's theory about the correlation between species richness and disturbance intensities. Phytosociological relevés were carried out in three different management-disturbance situations, namely mowing and grazing, mowing alone, and abandonment. The data from these relevés were processed through statistical analysis, and examined together with ecological parameters (bioindication values and twenty functional plant traits) in order to indicate significant differences within the diversely disturbed meadows. It was found that three identified plant communities corresponded to three different disturbance intensities, and that species richness was comparable between high disturbance situation and those of void disturbance, whilst it considerably decreased under intermediate disturbance. High disturbance condition vs. void disturbance comparison showed the higher differences regarding: species turnover (57% of Sørensen similarity index and 45 differential species), light request and pH soil reaction. Hemicryptophytes, fringe social behaviour type (SBT3), upright forbs, clonal ability, late flowering period emerged as differential traits and species height increases moving to undisturbed situation. Other important evidences concern avoidance strategies which are favoured by mowing and grazing, whereas species equipped with late flowering period and clonal ability are advantaged under intermediate and void disturbance conditions. Our findings indicated that the species more threatened by abandonment are the accidental ones.


abandonmentgrazinglong-term variationmowingpasture managementfunctional response