Micro-topographic heterogeneity increases plant diversity in old stages of restored grasslands

Balázs Deák, Orsolya Valkó, Péter Török, András Kelemen, Tamás Miglécz, Szilárd Szabó, Gergely Szabó, Béla Tóthmérész

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Citations (Scopus)


It is a truism in ecology that environmental heterogeneity increases diversity. Supporting field studies are mostly concerned with a large-scale topographic heterogeneity, ranging from a couple of metres to landscape-scale gradients. To test the role of fine-scale micro-topography on plant diversity, we studied the initial vegetation of recently filled (1-year-old), and established vegetation on old (7-year-old) soil-filled channels in an alkali landscape, East-Hungary. We hypothesised that (i) recently filled channels are characterised by a high cover of ruderal species and high species diversity and (ii) high micro-topographic heterogeneity increases the diversity of species and plant strategy types (mixed C-S-R categories) in early stages but later on this effect diminishes. We found that diversity of species and plant strategy types was higher in recently filled channels compared to old filled channels. Micro-topographic heterogeneity had no effect on the studied vegetation parameters in recently filled channels. Conversely, in old filled channels higher micro-topographic heterogeneity resulted in higher diversity and lower cover of the dominant grass Festuca pseudovina. Higher micro-topographic heterogeneity resulted in increased ruderality and decreased stress-tolerance, but it did not increase the diversity of plant strategy types. In contrast with former studies, we found that a couple of centimetres of micro-topographic heterogeneity had no effect on vegetation in recently filled channels, but supported a high diversity in old filled channels. An important practical implication of our study is that in grassland restoration projects, micro-topographic heterogeneity has a crucial role in sustaining biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-299
Number of pages9
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Alkali landscape
  • C-S-R strategies
  • Elevation
  • Functional diversity
  • Grassland restoration
  • Plant trait
  • Soil disturbance
  • Succession
  • Topography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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