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Biodiversity of vineyards in Southern Switzerland

 

The response of biodiversity on management regime change of traditional agro-ecosystems in the Alps and their effects on ecosystem processes and underlying services are still little known. Vineyards are among the oldest anthropogenic environments of high cultural and natural value that shape the landscape of large areas in Central and Southern Europe. In several mountain regions of the Alps, vineyards are a valid alternative to the landscape homogenization due to post-cultural land abandonment and agriculture intensification.

With this study we aim to (i) identifying environmental and management determinants affecting taxonomic and functional biodiversity in vineyards at different spatial scales and to (ii) provide useful information for the practice. For these purposes, we selected 48 vineyards Southern Switzerland and applied a multi-taxa and multi-trophic approach using standard sampling techniques. Advanced multivariate analyses are now used to analyze the data of both taxonomic and functional level of community assembles.

Preliminary results based on vegetation (primary producers), spiders, ground beetles (two carnivore taxa) and leafhoppers (herbivores) already provided important insights showing that vineyards Southern of the Alps host a highly diversified flora and fauna with several species of conservation concern among the four taxa. Local factors (microclimatic conditions and management) seems to drive community assemblages based on species composition, while habitat composition at a larger spatial scale has a lower influence.

Our study clearly highlights that terraced vineyards with high solar radiation are important habitat and landscape elements providing habitats for a high number of species, including rare and endangered species. So far, our results have showed that taxonomic and functional complexity of communities can be enhanced by reducing management through the use of moderate amount of pesticide and less frequent mowing of slopes within vineyards.

 

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