In dry habitats of European lowlands terricolous lichens and bryophytes are almost neglected in conservation practises, even if they may strongly contribute to biodiversity. This study aims at (a) testing the role of heathlands, acidic and calcareous dry grasslands for lichen and bryophyte diversity and conservation in lowland areas of northern Italy characterized by high human impact and habitat fragmentation; (b) detecting the effect of environmental drivers and vegetation dynamics on species richness and composition. Lichens, bryophytes, vascular plants, and environmental variables were recorded in 287 circular plots for 75 sites. Our results indicate that heathlands, acidic and calcareous dry grasslands host peculiar terricolous lichen and bryophyte communities that include several species of conservation concern. Thus, each habitat provides a complementary contribution to lichen and bryophyte diversity in continental lowland landscapes. Furthermore, in each habitat different factors drive species richness and composition with contrasting patterns between lichens and bryophytes. In terms of conservation, our results indicate that management of lowland dry habitats should act at both local and landscape scales. At local scale, vegetation dynamics should be controlled in order to avoid biodiversity loss due to vegetation dynamics and wood encroachment. At the landscape scale, patches of all the three habitats should be maintained to maximize regional diversity.

Biodiversity and conservation of terricolous lichens and bryophytes in continental lowlands of northern Italy: the role of different dry habitat types

Gheza G.;Nascimbene J.
2020

Abstract

In dry habitats of European lowlands terricolous lichens and bryophytes are almost neglected in conservation practises, even if they may strongly contribute to biodiversity. This study aims at (a) testing the role of heathlands, acidic and calcareous dry grasslands for lichen and bryophyte diversity and conservation in lowland areas of northern Italy characterized by high human impact and habitat fragmentation; (b) detecting the effect of environmental drivers and vegetation dynamics on species richness and composition. Lichens, bryophytes, vascular plants, and environmental variables were recorded in 287 circular plots for 75 sites. Our results indicate that heathlands, acidic and calcareous dry grasslands host peculiar terricolous lichen and bryophyte communities that include several species of conservation concern. Thus, each habitat provides a complementary contribution to lichen and bryophyte diversity in continental lowland landscapes. Furthermore, in each habitat different factors drive species richness and composition with contrasting patterns between lichens and bryophytes. In terms of conservation, our results indicate that management of lowland dry habitats should act at both local and landscape scales. At local scale, vegetation dynamics should be controlled in order to avoid biodiversity loss due to vegetation dynamics and wood encroachment. At the landscape scale, patches of all the three habitats should be maintained to maximize regional diversity.
Gheza G.; Assini S.; Lelli C.; Marini L.; Mayrhofer H.; Nascimbene J.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/787011
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