Regional habitat pattern of the Danube-Tisza Interfluve in Hungary II: The sand, the steppe and the riverine vegetation, degraded and regenerating habitats, regional habitat destruction

M. Biró, A. Révész, Zs Molnár, F. Horváth, B. Czúcz

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17 Citations (Scopus)


The increased endangerment and rapid devastation of the vegetation on the Danube-Tisza Interfluve are quite complex processes that can be approached from a manifold ways. One of the most important factors having influenced the vegetation in the recent past is the decline of the groundwater-level, the extent of which is well known and the reasons for that have been investigated for a long time. However, only few have studied its dramatic effect on the vegetation outside the local scale. In the first part of our bipartite article we discuss the regional habitat-pattern of the landscape, the background factors determining it, and the basic features of fen and alkali vegetation (Biró et al. 2007). In this second part, this will be completed by the sand, riverine and steppe vegetation and the data on habitat devastation on the regional scale. The analysis of the present habitat-pattern of the region was based on data of the actual (1996-2000) habitat map of Danube-Tisza Interfluve (Molnár et al. 2000, Biró et al. 2003) and on our experiences during the field survey. The quantitative analysis of the vegetation pattern was carried out considering the vegetation subregions. Our aim is to expose the actual state of the landscape, the vegetation and the rapid devastation of the natural habitats, by quantifying the current processes. Our results demonstrate that the extension of those habitats on the Danube-Tisza Interfluve that were not under cultivation in the 1980s has decreased drastically, by 40,074 ha (approx. 15%). The main reasons for grassland devastations are ploughing, afforestation, the invasion of shrubs and trees, the building in activity and the establishment of open water surfaces. The most serious decline in the recent past was observed in the case of fen vegetation: the decrease of its extension was estimated to be 10-11%. More than half of the habitats disappeared as a result of ploughing and grassland-devastation due to urbanisation (building in, development of infrastructure, etc.) was covered by fen vegetation, while about a quarter of them consisted of alkali habitats. Sand areas mostly decline because of the spontaneous invasion of alien species and afforestation, which led to the devastation of approx. 4% of the natural and disturbed sand vegetation. Astonishing is the fact that the total extension of the more-or-less disturbed or devastated habitats altogether comprise roughly half (49%) of the actually mapped vegetation patches of the Interfluve (137,908 ha). By summing up the areas of the most frequent habitat types of the vegetation subregions, it became evident that the grasslands, ploughed in the past 15 years, are among the first five most spacious habitat types in all subregions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-60
Number of pages42
JournalActa Botanica Hungarica
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


  • Degradation
  • Dry sand vegetation
  • GIS database
  • Habitat destruction
  • Landscape scale habitat pattern
  • Regeneration
  • Regional habitat changes
  • Riverine vegetation
  • Steppe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science

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