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TDK conference 2020

The structural effects of overseeding on a reconstructed grassland vegetation
Guller Zsófia Eszter - year 2
University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, Department of Botany
Supervisors: Judit Házi, András István Csathó


The protection of natural habitats and restoration of damaged habitats is one of the most vital duties of nature conservation. Loess grasslands are often utilized as agricultural fields due to the high quality of these soils. Hence, there are only a few not fragmented loess steppes that remained in good quality in Hungary. The specially protected grassland at Battonya-Tompapuszta is such a rare well-preserved habitat. In 2009 Körös-Maros National Park purchased a fieldland of 26.77 hectares contiguous to the pristine grassland with the intention of conducting grass vegetation reconstructional research. The protected area provided propagule to the uncultivated land and also operates as reference area during the experiment. In 2011 seeds of the dominant grass, Festuca valesiaca among other typical loess steppe species were sowed on one parcel of the former fieldland. The seeds originated from the pristine grassland. I joined this research in the spring of 2020.

In-depth investigations were carried out in order to obtain an overview of the effectiveness of the overseeding method used in former cultivated loesslands. In 12 quadrats of 4×4 m macrocoenological recordings were made and compared with 12 recordings on pristine grasslands of the same size. Results show that a compact, closed grassland was formed following the seeding treatment, and the dominance relations are comparable to that of the pristine grasslands. The average number of species is 31.33 on the pristine grassland and 18.42 for the overseeded parcel, while the average Shannon-diversity yields 2.14 and 1.58, respectively. In total 30 species were present on both sites, 49 appeared only on pristine grasslands and 22 solely on the overseeded parcels. From the species that occurred in both of the investigated areas only Festuca valesiaca and the Festuca rupicola were identical. Species that reached the highest level of coverage on overseeded grasslands are mainly monocots, while on pristine grasslands it was true for dicots. Based on our results it is safe to say that structural characteristics of areas seeded with Festuca do not reach the level of pristine grasslands’ attribute. The difference has been confirmed by cluster analysis. Furthermore, my work investigated the effect of time on grass reconstruction processes, comparing recordings of early states with samples gathered in 2020. The average number of species increased over time, the floristical composition altered to a large extent.

Using overseeding as a habitat reconstructional method can bring considerable results in less than ten years. Moreover, some of the typical loess species are present in the desired frequency that is appropriate to the natural state of such grasslands. Despite these achievements, there are still structural differences between natural loess grasslands and reconstructed fields. Thus, it is crucial to protect the last pristine natural grass communities that remained intact from agricultural usage.

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