Czech version

Mechanisms of species coexistence in seminatural meadow communities

Seminatural meadows are very common habitats in the Central European Landscape. Many plant species, especially rare and endangered species occur exclusively in meadows, using them as secondary refuges, since their primary habitats have been deteriorated. Therefore meadows are important in nature conservation. Moderately managed oligotrophic meadows are usually species rich. In our study site Ohrazeni we can find over 40 species of vascular plants per m2. The species diversity in meadows has been maintained by traditional management regimes, i.e. mowing and grazing. However, nowadays management strategies changed, having been either intensified by fertilization or abandoned. Both processes resulted in loss of species diversity making the meadow plant communities endangered. The goal of our project is to understand the mechanisms of species coexistence, which maintains the diversity in species-rich meadow communities.
The project has been carried on through the Department of Botany at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of South Bohemia. Jan Šuspa Lepš is the PI on the project supervising projects of many students of all degrees. The project started in 1993 and has been financially supported from several grants through the Grant Agencies of the Czech Republic collaborative GA CR grants with the Institute of Botany the Czech Academy of Science, PIs Tomáš Herben and František Krahulec).
Results of our research have been published and presented on several international conferences.
Most of our field experiments have been conducted in Ohrazení (sometimes we name our project 'Ohrazeni', but experiments have been set up also in other additional sites.
One of the results of the study of the seedling recruitment is our (unfortunately just rudimental) gallery of developmental stages of grassland plant seedlings.
Recently, we have considerably broadened the scope of our research, and put greater emphasis on theoretical aspects of our research. In particular, we work with species traits -both obtained from various databases, and also traits measured in our localities. Plant functional traits help to understand the functional diversity and its response to management, but also assembly rules and mechanisms of coexistence in meadow communities. The results of our research are summarized in a ppt presentation. In addition to the field research, we have also available a growing facility for conducting a pot experiments (it is used mainly by the Hemiparasitic plant subgoup). Also, recently we started to investigate the relationships between plants and ants.
Last revision: February 2009
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