Biodiversity-rich European grasslands: ancient, forgotten ecosystems

Feurdean, Angelica and Ruprecht, Eszter and Molnár, Zsolt and Hutchinson, Simon M. and Hickler, Thomas (2018) Biodiversity-rich European grasslands: ancient, forgotten ecosystems. BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION, 228. pp. 224-232. ISSN 0006-3207

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Worldwide reforestation has been recommended as a landscape restoration strategy to mitigate climate change in areas where the climate can sustain forest. This approach may threaten grassland ecosystems of unique biodiversity as such policies are based on the false assumption that most grasslands are man-made. Here, we use multiple lines of evidence (palaeoecological, pedological, phylogenetic, palaeontological) from Central Eastern Europe and show that various types of grasslands have persisted in this area throughout postglacial i.e. the past 11,700 years. A warm and dry climate, frequent fires, herbivore pressure, and early Neolithic settlements kept forests open until widespread forest clearance beginning 4000-3000 years ago. Closed forest cover has been the exception for the past two million years. This long-term persistence has likely contributed to the high biodiversity of these grasslands. Consequently, we call for a more cautious prioritisation of the protection of what may be erroneously considered natural, i.e. forests, by many environmental specialists and managers. Instead we provide a new framework for a better understanding of the evolution and persistence of different grassland types and their biodiversity, so that grasslands can be better understood, valued and conserved.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science / természettudomány > QE Geology / földtudományok
Q Science / természettudomány > QH Natural history / természetrajz
Q Science / természettudomány > QH Natural history / természetrajz > QH526 Paleontology / őslénytan
Q Science / természettudomány > QK Botany / növénytan > QK30 Plant ecology. Plant ethology / növényökológia
Depositing User: Dr. Eszter Ruprecht
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2018 08:54
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2019 09:27

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