Alkali marshes of Central-Europe: Ecology, management and nature conservation

Balázs Deák, Orsolya Valkó, Béla Tóthmérész, Péter Török

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

11 Citations (Scopus)


Alkali marshes and wetlands are among the few natural open ecosystems in Central- Europe. Inland alkali marshes of the European steppe zone are typical only for the Pannonian biogeographical region. They are characterized by shallow water cover, high seasonal fluctuations in water availability and by considerable salt-content in water and soil. Even small changes in the above parameters can result in significant differences in habitat structure and species composition. Alkali marshes are usually characterised by a species-poor vegetation, characterised by a few bulrush species (Bolboschoenus maritimus, Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani and S. littoralis). As indicators of the alkali character of these wetlands several halophytes and salt-tolerant species are present in the vegetation, like Aster tripolium ssp. pannonicus, Atriplex littoralis, Chenopodium chenopodioides and Plantago maritima. In sites with moderate salinity Phragmites australis, Schoenoplectus lacustris and Typha spp. can reach high cover scores. Several Pannonian endemic species are also present in alkali wetlands, like Cirsium brachycephalum, Acorellus pannonicus and Puccinellia limosa. Due to the uneven pattern of the soil salt-content and dynamic changes in water regime different types of alkali marshes compose a diverse mosaic pattern even in the small scale. This natural mosaic structure contributes to the maintenance of landscape-scale biodiversity, and also provides favourable habitats for several animal taxa, especially for breeding and migrating birds. These wetlands are also important as green corridors and stepping stones in fragmented agricultural landscapes. Alkali marshes are especially important in European nature conservation; they are included in the Natura 2000 system as priority habitats "Pannonic salt steppes and marshes". Reintroduction of traditional land use, like cattle grazing is essential to maintain the structure and species diversity of these alkali habitats. Alkali marshes are threatened by land-use changes, amelioration, eutrophication and fragmentation. Improper management, as regular reed harvesting also decreases the spatial diversity of these habitats.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSalt Marshes
Subtitle of host publicationEcosystem, Vegetation and Restoration Strategies
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781633213319
ISBN (Print)9781633213258
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2014


  • Aalkali landscape
  • Grazing
  • Management
  • Reed
  • Salinity
  • Wetland
  • Zonation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)

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    Deák, B., Valkó, O., Tóthmérész, B., & Török, P. (2014). Alkali marshes of Central-Europe: Ecology, management and nature conservation. In Salt Marshes: Ecosystem, Vegetation and Restoration Strategies (pp. 1-11). Nova Science Publishers, Inc..