Xeric grasslands of the inner-alpine dry valleys of Austria – new insights into syntaxonomy, diversity and ecology

Riccardo Guarino, Iwona Dembicz, Martin Magnes, Monika Janišová, Elías Afif Khouri, Christian Berg, Anna Kuzemko, Philipp Kirschner, Wolfgang Willner, Ermin Mašić, Asun Berastegi, Elena Belonovskaya, Itziar Garcia-Mijangos, Idoia Biurrun, Helmut Mayrhofer, Jürgen Dengler, Harald Rötzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: We studied the syntaxonomic position, biodiversity, ecological features, nature conservation value and current status of dry grasslands investigated by Josias Braun-Blanquet more than 60 years ago. Study area: Inner-alpine valleys of Austria. Methods: We sampled 67 plots of 10 m2, following the standardized EDGG methodology. We subjected our plots to an unsupervised classification with the modified TWINSPAN algorithm and interpreted the branches of the dendrogram syntaxonomically. Biodiversity, structural and ecological characteristics of the resulting vegetation units at association and order level were compared by ANOVAs. Results: All the examined grasslands belong to the class Festuco-Brometea. From ten distinguished clusters, we could assign four clusters to validly published associations, while the remaining six clusters were named tentatively. We classified them into three orders: Stipo-Festucetalia pallentis (Armerio elongatae-Potentilletum arenariae, Phleo phleoidis-Pulsatilletum nigricantis, Medicago minima-Melica ciliata community, Koelerio pyramidatae-Teucrietum montani), Festucetalia valesiacae (Sempervivum tectorum-Festuca valesiaca communi- ty); Brachypodietalia pinnati (Astragalo onobrychidis-Brometum erecti, Agrostis capillaris-Avenula adsurgens community, Anthericum ramosum-Brachypodium pinnatum community, Ranunculus bulbosus-Festuca rubra community, Carduus defloratus-Brachypodium pinnatum community). Conclusions: The ten distinguished dry grassland communities of the Austrian inner-alpine valleys differ in their ecological affinities as well as their vascular plant, bryophyte and lichen diversity. We point out their high nature conservation importance, as each of them presents a unique habitat of high value.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-157
Number of pages25
JournalVegetation Classification and Survey
Publication statusPublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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