Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Evaluating alternative mowing regimes for conservation management of Central European mesic hay meadows: a field experiment.

Abstract

Conservation status of hay meadows highly depends on their management. The main goal of this study was to assess the efficiency of different mowing regimes in maintenance of plant species richness and diversity of mesic hay meadows. The field experiment was carried out on a species rich, mesic hay meadow in Western Hungary. We evaluated the effects of four alternative types of management on the plant community after 7 years of continuous treatment: (1) mowing twice a year, typical traditional management, (2) mowing once a year in May, most practised currently by local farmers, (3) mowing once a year in September, often proposed for conservation management and (4) abandonment of mowing. Traditional mowing resulted in significantly higher number and higher diversity of vascular plant species than other mowing regimes. Mowing twice a year was the only efficient way to control the spread of the invasive Solidago gigantea, and mowing in September was more successful in it than mowing in May. We conclude that the traditional mowing regime is the most suitable to maintain botanical diversity of mesic hay meadows; however, other regimes should also be considered if certain priority species are targeted by conservation.