The role of grassy habitats in agroforestry.
Planting shelterbelts on agricultural fields has long traditions in Hungary. The biodiversity-enhancing effect of this type of agroforestry is intensively researched, but most of the results concentrate on tree species diversity and specific animal communities such as insects and birds. The characteristics of herbaceous vegetation and soil mesofauna related to shelterbelts are understudied; however, both communities play key roles in agricultural productivity. This study aimed to explore the diversity and species composition of these groups in shelterbelts and adjacent grassy and cropped habitats. Samples were taken inside and adjacent to a native and a non-native shelterbelt in an agricultural landscape. The results highlight that shelterbelt edges are at least as important as tree stands in preserving soil-related diversity. Native tree species composition shows slightly more favorable conditions concerning the examined communities. While the positive impact of shelterbelts on the agricultural productivity and the diversity of several animal communities has been proven, the appearance of forest-related herbaceous species in tree stands planted on cultivated fields is not expected, even after decades have passed. The research was supported by the Blue Planet Climate Protection Foundation.