NKFIH KH 129483 (2018-2020)
Effect of grazing on functional diversity of grasslands
Project leader: Péter Török
Applying nature-friendly free grazing can be an effective tool for the sustainable use of the landscape and protecting biological diversity. In our research, we aim to answer how grazing with different intensity, also considering livestock type, affects the vegetation, species composition, soil parameters and the density and composition of soil seed banks in the studied grassland communities.
To sustain the traditional land use and landscape-sca le biodiversity extensive pastoral and free grazing are vital and effective management options. Although the traditional livestock breeds are increasingly considered in grassland management and biodiversity conservation practice, the direct effects of these breeds on the species composition and richness of subjected communities are rarely studied. The planned research aims to study the intensity dependent effects of livestock grazing on the studied grassland communities by using a complex sampling of vegetation, soil and soil seed bank. For the first work package altogether 72 stands of alkali short-steppes, loess grasslands, alkali and non-alkali wet grasslands grazed in varying intensity prevailingly by Hungarian grey cattle were selected in order to study the change in the functional diversity of the vegetation induced by grazing. In the second work package, we aimed to study the vegetation and seed banks of typical physiognomically distinct vegetation units in 10 sites of wood pastures in Hungary and Romania. In the third work package we compared the vegetation composition and biomass production of alkali dry short-grass steppes, loess grasslands, alkali and non-alkali wet grassland grazed by sheep or cattle using a complex vegetation sampling. In the three work packages, by addressing 9 particular research questions we aim to answer how grazing with different intensity, also considering livestock identity, affects the vegetation, species composition, the soil and the density and composition of soil seed banks in the studied grassland communities.