Community Ecology

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 45–54 | Cite as

Do climate, resource availability, and grazing pressure filter floristic composition and functioning in Alpine pastures?

  • M. DaineseEmail author
  • M. Scotton
  • F. Clementel
  • A. Pecile
  • J. Lepš


We studied the floristic composition in the pastures of the Southern Alps (Trento Province, Italy). One hundred and five plots in seven different pasture plant communities were sampled: (1) nitrophilous, (2) montane mesic, (3) subalpine mesic, (4) calcareous montane, (5) calcareous subalpine, (6) acid montane, and (7) acid subalpine pastures. Forward selection and variation partitioning were applied to identify the most important factors controlling the species composition and plant traits in the pastures. Aggregated weighted averages were calculated for each plot using the published values of average height, specific leaf area, and seed mass for each species. Explanatory variables were recorded for each site to reflect climate, soil properties, and grazing pressure. We hypothesised that species composition and functional variation in pastures of the Southern Alps are controlled by three main environmental filters: climate, resource availability, and grazing pressure. We found that variables of climate and soil properties had a major role in explaining the species composition and variations in plant traits, while grazing pressure showed a lower independent effect. Species composition and plant traits depended mainly on temperature, soil fertility, and variables of bedrock type - soil pH. Our results confirm the importance of taking the effects of climate and resource availability into account when describing plant and community functions of grasslands.


Bedrock Elevation gradient LHS plant strategy Management Phosphorus Slope Temperature Variation partitioning 



volcanic and metamorphic acid bedrock


sedimentary calcareous bedrock


canopy height


distance to the farm centre


soil depth


grazing intensity




mixed debris


soil pH


total summer precipitation


Olsen P in soil


canonical redundancy analysis


specific leaf area


slope angle


seed mass


mean summer temperature


volcanic basic bedrock


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Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Dainese
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. Scotton
    • 2
  • F. Clementel
    • 3
  • A. Pecile
    • 4
  • J. Lepš
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Land and Agroforest EnvironmentsUniversity of PadovaLegnaro, PadovaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Agronomy and Crop ProductionUniversity of PadovaLegnaro, PadovaItaly
  3. 3.CRA-MPF Forest and Range Management Research InstituteTrentoItaly
  4. 4.CTT, Edmund Mach FoundationSan Michele all’Adige, TrentoItaly
  5. 5.Department of Botany, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of South BohemiaČeské BudĕjoviceCzech Republic
  6. 6.Institute of Entomology of Biological Centre CASČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic

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