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Plant communities and species richness of the calcareous grasslands in southeast Belgium

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Abstract:

Calcareous grasslands are biodiversity hotspots in Western Europe. In Belgium, a number of phytosociological surveys have been realized in these habitats, but none covers the whole range of calcareous grasslands at the regional scale. The aim of this study was (i) to provide a synthesis of the floristic variation of calcareous grasslands of the Calestienne natural region using a uniform methodology; (ii) to relate floristic variation to environmental variables, and (iii) to characterize the specific diversity of the different grassland communities that occur in the study region. Seven different communities were identified with the TWINSPAN method. The originality of the grasslands on calcareous and calcareo-siliceous rocks was statistically confirmed. Significant differences for environmental variables were identified among the seven communities by a MANOVA. Main differences between communities were related to xericity and pH, although a north-south gradient was also identified. More xeric grasslands were located in the southern part of the study region while northern part was occupied by more mesophilous grasslands. Multiple regressions were used to describe the influence of the environmental conditions on plant species richness. The most mesophilous grasslands appeared to be the most species-rich while soil acidity negatively affected species richness.

Keywords: BELGIUM; CALCAREOUS GRASSLANDS; ENVIRONMENTAL VARIABLES; MANOVA; PHYTOSOCIOLOGY; SPECIES RICHNESS; TWINSPAN

Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: December 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • The Belgian Journal of Botany (now known as Plant Ecology and Evolution) is an international journal open to all fields of plant sciences. Please note, however, that papers restricted to purely nomenclatural matters or to floristical data of only local interest will not be accepted. The Journal appears in one volume of two issues per year. It publishes reviews, original research papers, short notes, letters to the editor, and book reviews. Click here for current issues of this journal
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