Europe has a long tradition of alpine grazing. Alpine pastures shape the cultivated landscape supporting a high biodiversity. However, more and more alpine pastures are abandoned and affected by shrub encroachment, leading to the disappearance of plant and animal biodiversity. As part of the «AlpFutur» collaborative project, the aim of this study was to highlight the influence of dwarf shrubs on valuable herb and grass species occurring in open grassland areas surrounded by dwarf shrubs. On two alps on both sides of the San Bernardino Pass, Alp Pian Doss and Tällialp, two abandoned slopes were investigated. Whereas the number of all plants as well as quality plant species were affected by site only, both site and degree of shrub encroachment in the vicinity of the grassland areas had a significant effect on species composition. The results show that even small open areas surrounded by dwarf shrubs harbour many valuable grassland species.
Valuable biodiversity in grassland areas of encroached alpine pastures