High-Altitude Grasslands: Biodiversity Conservation, Management, and Habitat Preference

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X). This special issue belongs to the section "Land, Biodiversity, and Human Wellbeing".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2024 | Viewed by 3309

Special Issue Editor


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Life, Health & Environmental Sciences, University of L'Aquila, Via Vetoio Coppito, 67100 L'Aquila, Italy
Interests: ecological niche modeling; spatial analysis; GIS; amphibians; reptiles; conservation biology; climate change; invasive species; alien species

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

As all of you know, biodiversity is now under siege at all spatial scales; some environments are more vulnerable than others, and high-altitude grasslands are among them.

These habitats host a plethora of rare or endemic species, with complex biogeographic histories and often deserving conservation actions, especially in light of the changing climate.

Also, the centuries-old (or, sometimes, millennia-old) relationship with human activities, mainly represented by agriculture and pasture, shaped the occurrence of species, sometimes creating peculiar equilibria which are now threatened by the changes in land use.

The study of those complex ecosystems still needs to be completed, as the high-altitude grasslands may be challenging to reach, and data collection can be demanding for their intrinsic nature. Also, they host species with complex phenology, an aspect that complicates, even more, the research on this topic. Still, studies on these delicate environments must be conducted to pose the basis for their protection.

This Special Issue aims at collecting research articles, reviews, and short communications dealing with every aspect of those topics, taking advantage of approaches ranging from landscape ecology to fine-scale ones, which can be used as models to increase the knowledge, inform and support management actions in the light of the ongoing global change.

I, therefore, encourage you to send your contributions to this Special Issue of Land focusing on “High-altitude grasslands: Biodiversity Conservation, Management, and Habitat Preference”.

The submission of the following subjects is particularly encouraged:

  • Substantial contributions to the biogeography of rare/endemic/threatened high-altitude grassland species;
  • The role of high-altitude grasslands as glacial refugia, especially in terms of phylogeographic patterns;
  • Climate and/or land use change impact on grassland species/communities;
  • Positive or negative impact of human practices (e.g., agriculture, pasture) on high-altitude grassland species/communities at a landscape scale;
  • Remote sensing or species distribution modelling techniques and applications to improve high-altitude grassland research and knowledge;
  • Innovative approaches (new tools, algorithms, digital workflows) to support landscape-scale data analysis;
  • Management proposal for highly endangered high-altitude grasslands or identity areas;
  • Case studies of success or failure of landscape-scale management actions;
  • Protected Areas' contribution to the conservation of high-altitude grassland species or communities;
  • The role of OECMs (Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures) in preserving high-altitude grasslands;
  • Theoretical approaches to the management of the high-altitude grasslands in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with particular attention to SDGs 13 and 15.

Dr. Mattia Iannella
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • high-altitude grasslands
  • biodiversity
  • habitat
  • landscape-scale management actions
  • sustainable development goals (SDGs)

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

17 pages, 4939 KiB  
Article
Soil Carbon Storage, Enzymatic Stoichiometry, and Ecosystem Functions in Indian Himalayan Legume-Diversified Pastures
by Avijit Ghosh, Suheel Ahmad, Amit K. Singh, Pramod Jha, Rajendra Kumar Yadav, Raimundo Jiménez Ballesta, Sheeraz Saleem Bhatt, Nagaratna Biradar and Nazim Hamid Mir
Land 2024, 13(4), 452; https://doi.org/10.3390/land13040452 - 02 Apr 2024
Viewed by 483
Abstract
The influences of legume diversification on soil carbon (C) pools and sequestration, particularly in Himalayan pastureland, remain poorly understood. Moreover, the impact of legume diversification activities and the stoichiometry of soil enzymes in C biogeochemistry at the ecosystem level remains largely overlooked. The [...] Read more.
The influences of legume diversification on soil carbon (C) pools and sequestration, particularly in Himalayan pastureland, remain poorly understood. Moreover, the impact of legume diversification activities and the stoichiometry of soil enzymes in C biogeochemistry at the ecosystem level remains largely overlooked. The purpose of this study is to investigate the influences of legume diversification on activities and the stoichiometry of soil enzymes and their control of C sequestration in pasturelands. Four experimental fertilized species combinations, namely, SG (50% Festuca arundinacea + 50% Dactylis glomerata), SGL1 (25% Festuca arundinacea + 25% Dactylis glomerata + 50% Onobrychis viciifolia), SGL2 (25% Festuca arundinacea + 25% Dactylis glomerata + 50% Trifolium pratense), SGL12 (25% Festuca arundinacea + 25% Dactylis glomerata + 25% Onobrychis viciifolia + 25% Trifolium pratense), and natural pasture (NG) were compared. Soils under SGL1, SGL2, and SG12 had ~18, 36, and 22% greater soil C than SG, respectively. Among the pastures with fertilization, the C mineralization was suppressed by legume diversification. C sequestration under SGL1, SGL2, and SG12 was ~27, 22, and 38% higher than SG, respectively, at the 0–30 cm soil layer. The ratios of DHA are as follows: for PhOX and DHA, PerOX significantly decreased with an increasing grass–legume mixture, suggesting greater C sequestration. PCA analysis revealed that C sequestration under legume diversification and enzymatic stoichiometry had an indirect but substantial impact on C sequestration. The increasing C sequestration under SGL12 was complemented by higher productivity. Data suggested that increasing legumes in pastureland might greatly enhance ecosystem functions such as soil C storage, productivity, ecorestoration efficiency, and biological activity in Indian Himalayan pastureland. Full article
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24 pages, 3335 KiB  
Article
Seminatural Grasslands: An Emblematic Challenge for Nature Conservation in Protected Areas
by Daniela Gigante, Simone Angelucci, Federica Bonini, Federico Caruso, Valter Di Cecco, Domizia Donnini, Luciano Morbidini, Mariano Pauselli, Bernardo Valenti, Andrea Tassi, Marco Vizzari and Luciano Di Martino
Land 2024, 13(3), 386; https://doi.org/10.3390/land13030386 - 18 Mar 2024
Viewed by 862
Abstract
Seminatural grasslands are among the most threatened habitats in Europe and worldwide, mainly due to changes in/abandonment of their traditional extensive use by grazing animals. This study aimed to develop an innovative model that integrates plant biodiversity, animal husbandry, and geo-informatics to manage [...] Read more.
Seminatural grasslands are among the most threatened habitats in Europe and worldwide, mainly due to changes in/abandonment of their traditional extensive use by grazing animals. This study aimed to develop an innovative model that integrates plant biodiversity, animal husbandry, and geo-informatics to manage and preserve seminatural grasslands in protected areas. With this objective, an integrated study was conducted on the seminatural grasslands in the hilly, montane, and (to a minimum extent) subalpine belts of the Maiella National Park, one of Europe’s most biodiversity-rich protected sites. Plant biodiversity was investigated through 141 phytosociological relevés in homogeneous areas; the pastoral value was calculated, and grasslands’ productivity was measured together with the main nutritional parameters. Uni- and multivariate statistical analyses were performed to identify the main grassland vegetation types, their indicator species and ecological–environmental characteristics, and their pastoral and nutritional values’ variability and differences. A total of 17 grassland types, most of which correspond to habitat types listed in Annex I to the 92/43/EEC Directive, were identified and characterised in terms of their biodiversity and potential animal load. To allow for near-real-time analysis of grasslands, an NDVI-based web interface running on Google Earth Engine was implemented. This integrated approach can provide decision-making support for protected-area managers seeking to develop and implement sustainable grassland management practices that ensure the long-term maintenance of their biodiversity. Full article
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12 pages, 4374 KiB  
Article
Detecting Floral Resource Availability Using Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
by Nicholas V. Anderson, Steven L. Petersen, Robert L. Johnson, Tyson J. Terry and Val J. Anderson
Land 2024, 13(1), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/land13010099 - 16 Jan 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 615
Abstract
Floral resources for native pollinators that live in wildland settings are diverse and vary across and within growing seasons. Understanding floral resource dynamics and management is becoming increasingly important as honeybee farms seek public land for summer pasture. Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUASs) [...] Read more.
Floral resources for native pollinators that live in wildland settings are diverse and vary across and within growing seasons. Understanding floral resource dynamics and management is becoming increasingly important as honeybee farms seek public land for summer pasture. Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUASs) present a viable approach for accurate broad floristic surveys and present an additional solution to more traditional alternative methods of vegetation assessment. This methodology was designed as a simplified approach using tools frequently available to land managers. The images of three subalpine meadows were captured from a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone platform three times over the growing season in 2019 in Sanpete County, Utah. The images were composited using Pix4D software 4.5.6 and classified using a simple supervised approach in ENVI 4.8 and ArcGIS Pro 2.4.3 These same meadows were assessed using two traditional ocular methods of vegetation cover–meter-squared quadrats and macroplot estimation. The areas assessed with these methods were compared side by side with their classified counterparts from drone imagery. Classified images were not only found to be highly accurate when detecting overall floral cover and floral color groups (76–100%), but they were also strongly correlated with quadrat estimations, suggesting that these methods used in tandem may be a conducive strategy toward increased accuracy and efficiency when determining floral cover at broad spatial scales. Full article
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18 pages, 3461 KiB  
Article
A Geospatial Modelling Approach to Assess the Capability of High-Country Stations in Delivering Ecosystem Services
by Fabiellen C. Pereira, Stuart Charters, Carol M. S. Smith, Thomas M. R. Maxwell and Pablo Gregorini
Land 2023, 12(6), 1243; https://doi.org/10.3390/land12061243 - 17 Jun 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 827
Abstract
The creation of more sustainable land use strategies is paramount to designing multifunctional agricultural landscapes that allow grasslands to continually deliver multiple ecosystem services. A mapping modelling approach would provide us with a tool for system diagnosis to better assess the value of [...] Read more.
The creation of more sustainable land use strategies is paramount to designing multifunctional agricultural landscapes that allow grasslands to continually deliver multiple ecosystem services. A mapping modelling approach would provide us with a tool for system diagnosis to better assess the value of a landscape and define place-based practices for designing more context-adjusted systems that are in synergy with the complexity of grasslands. To assess the potential capability of a high-country pastoral livestock production system in New Zealand in delivering ecosystem services, this work uses a geospatial model as a decision support tool to identify management practices that enhance grassland health. The model uses national, climatic, soil, and landcover data to assess the agricultural productivity, flood mitigation, C sequestration, erosion, and sediment delivery capacity of a case study high-country station in New Zealand. Model outcomes suggest that the station has the potential for increased agricultural productivity although varying spatially, a high flood mitigation capacity, a high capacity for C sequestration, a moderate risk of erosion, a capacity to reduce sediment delivery to streams, and overall, a low to moderate nitrogen and phosphorus accumulation. Output maps display a spatial visualisation of ecosystem services associated with the landscape topography, soil, and vegetation patterns that allow the identification of neglected areas and planning of best place-based management practices strategies to enhance the health of grasslands. Full article
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