Taxonomic and functional facets of the resilience to management of mown subalpine grasslands

Methods: A manipulative experiment tested the reciprocal effects of mowing cessation and mowing resumption for ten years. We analysed floristic composition data following four steps. First, we used the Community Structure Integrity Index (CSII) (Jaunatre et al. 2013) to obtain qualitative and quantitative summaries of taxonomic responses. The second step focused on taxonomic biodiversity using species richness, Simpson and Pielou indices, and on responsive species identified in the first step. Third, we analyzed functional diversity responses using functional groups and community weighted mean (CWM) of vegetative plant traits. Finally, we quantified ecosystem services impacts by estimating fodder quantity and quality using trait-based models. Results: The mowing manipulation demonstrated the high resilience of P. paniculata grasslands, and revealed reversibility of transitions between mown and unmown states. By reducing the abundance of P. paniculata, the resumption of mowing restored forage quality. Supported by a complementary case study on post-disturbance resowing in hay meadows, this study demonstrates the resilience of mown subalpine grasslands to management change and explores underlying belowground mechanisms of vegetative regeneration and belowground reserves. Conclusion: Our novel multi-indicator approach provides multi-faceted mechanistic understanding necessary to anticipate impacts of socio-ecological changes and to maintain the multiple benefits of mountain grasslands. Addressing the different facets of biodiversity from abundance data that is systematically collected in impact or monitoring assessment, this approach provides a common framework, widely applicable for different types of restoration or management interventions, across regions and biota.


Taxonomic and functional facets of the resilience to management of mown subalpine grasslands
Publication Type
Journal Article
Year of Publication
Applied Vegetation Science
Date Published
CNRS, Lautaret
Submitted on 21 October 2021