Is regular mowing the most appropriate and cost-effective management maintaining diversity and biomass of target forbs in mountain hay meadows?

Orsolya Valkó, Péter Török, Gábor Matus, Béla Tóthmérész

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Conservation of grassland biodiversity is a key issue in the EU agro-biodiversity policy. We assessed the effects of yearly mowing on target forb biomass in years with contrasting precipitation (2006-2007) in mountain fen and dry-mesophilous hay meadows in NE-Hungary. We hypothesised: (i) Species richness and biomass of target forbs is higher in mown than in abandoned stands. (ii) Mowing has more an effect on the biomass of target forbs, graminoids and litter than precipitation.Mowing increased the species richness of forbs and target forbs. The biomass of forbs and target forbs was not affected by mowing because of the specific responses of certain forbs. The majority of target species were supported, but tall forbs (Succisa pratensis; Lathyrus pratensis) were suppressed by mowing. Precipitation affected only the amount of litter in dry-mesophilous meadows and forb biomass in fen meadows. In the dry year, the biomass of target forbs decreased but the proportion of the species did not change. Our results showed that mowing is necessary to maintain overall plant biodiversity in hay meadows by removal of graminoid biomass and litter, but not all target forbs were favoured by regular yearly mowing. Decreased mowing frequency (mowing in every second or third year) on the entire meadow or temporarily changing mosaics of mown and unmown stripes might be the most suitable management option for maintaining the highest biodiversity of forbs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-309
Number of pages7
JournalFlora: Morphology, Distribution, Functional Ecology of Plants
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2012



  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Grassland biodiversity
  • Grassland restoration
  • Mosaic management
  • Phytomass
  • Target species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science

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