Focussed on bryophyte assemblages

The post provided by Monika Janišová

Photo credit: Martin Magnes

This Behind the paper post refers to the article Determinants of bryophyte assemblages in traditionally managed grasslands of the Carpathian Mts by Monika Janišová et al. (2022), published in Applied Vegetation Science (

Our latest article is another scientific paper, based on research into traditionally farmed grasslands in the Carpathians and using the Grassland with tradition Database ( Our approach is a little different from classical vegetation research. In addition to sampling vegetation, we asked land users for details about current and historical management. And in addition to focusing on the individual plot, we also noticed the surrounding landscape. Thanks to this, we were able to test several sets of environmental drivers (related to topography, soil properties, landscape, and management) while studying bryophyte assemblages. We used our interdisciplinary approach (combining botany, ecology, ethnology, and history) to investigate the relative importance of environmental drivers of bryophyte cover and species richness as well as their taxonomic and functional composition.

Traditional landscape differs in many attributes from a modern agricultural landscape. High spatial and temporal diversity in farming regimes results in a specific small-scale grassland mosaic where each parcel is a category of its own. Poiana Stampei, Romania. Photo credit: Monika Janišová

Our results showed that in semi‐natural grasslands of the Carpathian Mts, the taxonomic and functional composition of bryophyte assemblages is affected mainly by the topographic, soil‐structural, and vegetation‐related variables, while those directly or indirectly responsible for moisture and light availability were the most important. Bryophyte cover was almost equally affected by topography and management‐related factors, and bryophyte richness was mainly affected by grassland management variables. The impact of landscape variables was generally very weak, and soil chemical factors were not demonstrated as important for bryophyte assemblages at all. Our results also suggest that management diversity as an outcome of long‐term application of traditional ecological knowledge by local farmers may play a crucial role in maintaining structurally diverse and species‐rich grasslands. Cultural traditions of local communities should therefore be taken into account in agricultural policies.

Our team in Alchemilla-T-shirts during sampling in Staryi Hvizdets, Kolomyia district, Ukraine. A substantial part of our study area is in Ukraine, the country invaded by the Russian army in February 2022. We hope that we will have a chance for continuing peaceful cooperation very soon in the future. Photo credit: Monika Janišová

Our research was supported by the National Geographic Society, grant NGS-288R-18 on “Carpathian grasslands – genuine celebration of cultural and natural diversity“, and by the Slovak Academy of Sciences, grant VEGA 2/0095/19 on “Traditional ecological knowledge for grassland conservation and restoration“.

You are welcome to visit our previous posts and look at the previous project outputs: