Deák, B., Valkó, O., Török, P., Kelemen, A., Tóth, K., Miglécz, T., Tóthmérész, B. (2015): Reed cut, habitat diversity and productivity in wetlands. Ecological Complexity 22: 121-125.
- We tested the effects of winter cutting versus abandonment on wetland diversity.
- Winter cutting decreased habitat diversity and structural heterogeneity.
- Unmanaged wetlands harboured high amount of biomass in heterogeneous distribution.
- Diversity of vegetation types correlated positively with all biomass fractions.
- Intensive reed cut decreases wetland diversity by overriding edaphic conditions.
There is a conflict between nature conservation and thatching industry regarding the management of reedbeds. On one hand, reedbeds are of an economical importance by providing thatching material, on the other hand, they harbour several endangered species. Reedbeds are typically managed by winter cutting, but its impacts on biodiversity are poorly understood. Our aim was to study the effects of winter cutting on the habitat diversity and structural heterogeneity of wetlands in a lowland alkali landscape (East-Hungary). We tested the following hypotheses: (i) Both diversity of plant species and habitat diversity are lower in winter cut wetlands compared to unmanaged stands. (ii) The distribution of biomass (green biomass, litter and standing dead biomass) is more homogeneous in winter cut wetlands compared to unmanaged ones. We found that winter cutting decreased habitat diversity and structural heterogeneity at multiple scales. Number of plant species and all measures of habitat diversity (number of patches, vegetation types and the length of vegetation margins) had lower scores in cut wetlands than in unmanaged ones. We found that unmanaged wetlands harboured high amount of accumulated biomass and they also maintained high habitat diversity likely due to the heterogeneous distribution of the biomass. In unmanaged wetlands, biomass accumulation did not decrease habitat diversity and also contributed to a higher structural heterogeneity. In cut wetlands, expansion of reed was an important driver of the decrease in habitat diversity and structural heterogeneity. Reed expansion likely overrode fine-scale edaphic conditions (hydrology and salinity) in shaping vegetation patterns; thus we suggest to avoid intensive winter cutting.
Biomass, Landscape, Management, Margin, Marsh, Phragmites