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Effects of Grazing Exclusion in the Central Austrian Alps (2000-2015)

In the Central Austrian Alps (Obergurgl, Ötztal) grazing occurred since 6300 years in the subalpine and lower alpine zone. We know about this long-term impact by palynological studies but we have no evidence what will happen with species composition when grazing cessation takes place. In 2000, a long-term monitoring project was initiated in Obergurgl (Ötztal, Tyrol, Austria) from the subalpine to the upper alpine zone. Permanent plots were established in grazed plots (controls) and fenced areas (exclosures) at 3 sites Obergurgl (1950 m a.s.l., 1 fence plus control), Schönwieskopf (2300 m a.s.l., 3 fences plus 3 controls), and Hohe Mut (2650 m a.s.l., 3 fences plus 3 controls). In 2005 the study sites were enlarged and 3 additional fences were established in the Rotmoos mire at 2300 m a.s.l. The main aim was to investigate the yearly changes from 2000 to 2008 by means of frequency analyses. We studied also fruit and seed production, seed weight, and germination of seeds from grazed and ungrazed areas. A three-factorial experiment was carried out at the Schönwieskopf site and in the mire to study the effects of trampling, seed addition, microsite creation, and microsite x seed addition in grazed and ungrazed plots.

Research Questions

  • Effects of grazing exclusion on species numbers, species composition, functional groups
  • Effects of grazing exclusion on seed production and germination
  • Effects of seed addition, microsite creation and microsite x seed addition in grazed and ungrazed plots in dry and wet sites at the lower alpine zone

Funding
Land Tirol: Abteilung Umweltschutz (2000-2005)
Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften (ÖAW, 2005-2007)
Forschungszentrum Berglandwirtschaft (2008-2010)

Personnel involved
Roland Mayer
Klaus Vorhauser
Brigitta Erschbamer

Cooperation
Rüdiger Kaufmann, Institute of Ecology, University of Innsbruck  
Alpine Research Centre Obergurgl, University of Innsbruck[Link]

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