Deák B., Valkó O., Török P., Tóthmérész B. (2014): Solonetz meadow vegetation (Beckmannion eruciformis) in East-Hungary an alliance driven by moisture and salinity. Tuexenia 34: 187-203.
Wet meadows are transitional habitats between wetlands and dry-mesophilous grasslands; thus, they are vital in sustaining biodiversity as sources, stepping stones and green corridors of species dispersal. It is especially valid for inland alkali vegetation, where high landscape-scale patchiness is typical and rapid shifts between vegetation types occur frequently. Solonetz meadows (Beckmannion eruciformis) are among the best-preserved open habitats in Europe harbouring a unique flora including several endemics. Besides their importance, studies on the vegetation of solonetz meadows are scarce even though this knowledge would be vital for their effective conservation and management. Using own records and literature data, we provide a synthesis of the alliance Beckmannion eruciformis to charac-terise its associations floristically and ecologically in five regions along the river Tisza, East Hungary. We studied three associations of the alliance: (i) Agrostio stoloniferae-Alopecuretum pratensis, (ii) Agrostio stoloniferae-Beckmannietum eruciformis and (iii) Agrostio stoloniferae-Glycerietum pedi-cellatae. We found that solonetz meadow associations were separated along a moisture gradient with Agrostio stoloniferae-Alopecuretum pratensis at the drier end and Agrostio stoloniferae-Glycerietum pedicellateae at the wet end. This gradient was also justified by the distribution of the phytosociological groups. The proportion of species of Festuco-Brometea division was the highest in Agrostio stolonifer-ae-Alopecuretum pratensis, while the proportion of Cypero-Phragmitetea species was the highest in Agrostio stoloniferae-Glycerietum pedicellateae. Species of Puccinellio-Salicornetea had the highest proportion in Agrostio stoloniferae-Beckmannietum eruciformis, indicating the high soil salinity of this association. Our results suggest that Agrostio stoloniferae-Alopecuretum pratensis association plays an important role in preserving the continental flora elements of the surrounding dry grasslands. The ecological indicator values for soil moisture and salinity suggest that in case of the studied solonetz meadow associations, humidity increases with decreasing elevation, while salinity is highest at medium elevations. Our results suggest that Agrostio stoloniferae-Beckmannietum eruciformis is a transition towards salt marsh associations, while Agrostio stoloniferae-Glycerietum pedicellatae is a transition towards freshwater marshes. Our results show that preserving solonetz meadows is an important task for nature conservation as they have a crucial role in maintaining landscape-scale species and habitat diversity and act as buffer zones around wetlands.
alkali grasslands, Festuco-Puccinellietea, hay-meadows, landscape-scale diversity, mois-ture gradient, salinity gradient