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Abstract

The state of conservation and prospects for the protection of Molinia meadows (code 6410) in river valleys in the light of monitoring studies.

Abstract

The paper presents the results of the first monitoring of Molinia meadows (habitat 6410) in river valleys in Poland, carried out in 2010-2011, in terms of their conservation status and prospects for protection. 49 stations in 13 Natura 2000 areas were analyzed. Four main parameters were used to evaluate the habitat: specific structure and function (with indicators: typical species, expansion of shrubs and trees, native expansive herb plants, dominant species, invasive alien species), the area of habitat (with indicators: percentage of area covered by habitat in transect, space structure of habitat, area of habitat with different state of preservation), dead organic matter, prospects for preservation, and general evaluation. Invasive alien species was the best-ranked indicator, followed by typical species (here understood as characteristic and differential for Molinion alliance). Area of habitat with different state of preservation was the least evaluated indicator, followed by dominant species and native expansive herb plants. The most serious threat to Molinia meadows was the abandonment of traditional use on one hand, and too intense mowing on the other. The former causes overgrowing by shrubs or the dominance of expansive species, including Molinia caerulea itself, and the latter - the regression of late-blooming characteristic plants (Succisa pratensis, Dianthus superbus, Serratula tinctoria). There is little chance of proper use in future on most of the surveyed stations in river valleys, and thus effective protection of habitat 6410. Many of Molinia meadow stands lie on private land (sometimes beyond the Natura 2000 areas), which makes the opportunity to influence the way of their use very limited.