REGARDS – REsilience of marginal GrAsslands and biodiveRsity management Decision Support

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Stubai Valley, Austria

The study area of the Stubai Valley covers the municipalities of Neustift im Stubaital and Fulpmes. Located in the Central Eastern Alps, southwest of Innsbruck in Tyrol, Austria, it extends over an area of about 266 kmē and is characterized by complex topography. Altitude ranges from 920 m to about 3500 m a.s.l. The landscape is mainly composed of forests and grasslands with different management intensities as well as alpine pastures. Abandoned lands can be found mainly above the tree line and 47% of the area is covered by rocks and glaciers. In the period from 1973 to 2003, an area of 2355 ha, corresponding to 16% of the usable area used in the Stubai Valley, was subject to land-use changes. Transition values demonstrate a trend towards less intensive land use, along with the growth of settlement areas and increasing forest area.

The experimental site ‘Kaserstattalm’ is located at a long-term ecological research area in the Stubai Valley (LTER Site Stubai) at 1820-1970 m above sea level on granite bedrock. At the treeline (near 1900 m), the average annual precipitation amounts to 1100 mm and the average air temperature is 3.0 °C. The present grasslands differ as regards management intensity, including intensive, lightly fertilized meadow sites (Trisetetum flavescentis community), extensive meadow sites with very low levels of fertilization (Sieversio-Nardetum strictae community), managed pastures, and abandoned grassland undergoing invasion by shrubs (e.g. Calluna vulgaris) and tree seedlings. A tendency towards reduced management and less intensive grazing, recognized since 1950, results in a successive change of abandoned areas to shrublands and young forest stands, shaping the landscape structure of the Stubai Valley mountain region.

Stubai lanscape
Stubai valley landscape

Stubai figure
Location of our study area in Europe (a) and the experimental site ‘Kaserstattalm’ in the Stubai Valley (b). Land-use pattern for the status quo of the experimental site ‘Kaserstattalm’ (c).

REGARDS is funded by the following organisations

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